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Soon after he made the remarks, China’s state-controlled propaganda machine began work aimed at reducing what it feared would be pro-Locke fever. The robustly anti-U.S. newspaper Global Times, part of the ruling Communist Party mouthpiece People’s Daily, conducted an online survey asking the question: What do you think about Gary Locke’s show of “low key, no entourage, no limo” arrival in China?

By Tuesday afternoon, more than 9,000 had responded and a whopping 72 percent of them expressed disapproval, most of them with vitriolic personal attacks, accusing the new ambassador of being a “Chinese traitor,” “shameless showman,” and part of a “carefully designed plot with ulterior motives.”

The remaining 28 percent expressed few specific reasons for approval. China has the world’s largest Internet community, with more than 420 million users. It is also the world’s most monitored and controlled, accounting for more netizens in jail for expressing free opinions than the rest of the world combined, with a reported employment of some 30,000 “Internet police.”

Miles Yu’s column appears Thursdays. He can be reached a mmilesyu@gmail.com.