Chinese bloggers and the media on Monday speculated about whether the new US ambassador's Chinese roots would help Sino-US ties -- and nicknamed him "the backpacker" for his frugal travelling habits.
Gary Locke arrived in Beijing at the weekend, carrying his own luggage and travelling in a regular car, with little of the ceremony that usually surrounds Chinese dignitaries abroad.
"Our own officials have got used to a luxury lifestyle," lamented one user of the Sina Weibo microblogging service in response to Locke's relaxed arrival, while the state Xinhua news agency dubbed him the US "backpacker".
Locke, the first Chinese American to hold the job, succeeds Jon Huntsman, who resigned to run for the Republican presidential nomination.
A column in the official China Daily newspaper said there were hopes Locke's ancestry would "help him be a bridge between China and the United States and between the two peoples". "However, we should not pin too many hopes on him adopting a more pro-China approach than his predecessors," said the commentary, written by Tao Wenzhao, a scholar at the Centre for US-China Relations at Beijing's Tsinghua University.
Tao reminded readers that Locke would "work to serve the US national interests", in comments echoed online and in other newspapers amid excitement over the 61 year old's China roots.
"Luo Jiahui (Locke's Chinese name) needs to prove to Americans that he will not be influenced by his Chinese lineage," one netizen said on Sina Weibo, China's most popular microblogging site.