Outgoing ambassador Mr. Locke expressed concern at the recent rise in arrests of journalists and activists engaged in peaceful protest. He also mentioned that China and Japan should avoid actions that would be seen as provocative over disputed islands. Mr. Locke, 63, is the first Chinese-American to serve the position. His term has been marked by a series of delicate diplomatic incidents between the US and China, including helping a blind activist Chen Guangcheng and acquiescing Wang Lijun, the former police chief who spark the downfall of top Chinese politician Bo Xilai to seek refuge at US consulate in Chengdu. Mr. Locke said that there had been progress in the quality of life and standard of living in China. However, the human rights condition in China still waits to be improved. He mentioned in his speech that “human rights is more than economic prosperity and the economic conditions of people, but also fundamentally universal rights–freedom of speech, freedom of assembly, the ability to practise one’s own religion.

(Yahoo News, BBCFinancial Times, February 27)