By LAO BAIXING
BEIJING (China Daily Show) — It was supposed to end with a goodwill banquet. Instead, politicians gathered outside Beijing’s Great Hall of the People were stunned when US Vice-President Joe Biden arrived at the finale of his China trip driving a taxicab and touting for fares.
Since arriving late last week, Biden and US Ambassador to China Gary Locke have shocked citizens with their down-to-earth behavior.
Acts such as carrying their own bags, cracking hair jokes, promoting ‘noodle diplomacy’ and behaving like regular joes, rather than in the starched-collar domestic style, have thrown Beijing’s politicians into a PR tailspin.
This morning, Biden completed his shocking race-to-the-bottom by donning baseball cap (right) and sunglasses, and taking to the wheel of one of the capital’s famous yellow cabs.
“He’s learnt the basics – ‘Where you going?’ and ‘I’m not driving south of Qianmen this time of night’ and he’s already a dab hand at hurtling past desperate commuters with his light on, while staring dead ahead,” said a senior aide. “He’s taking this whole ‘man of the people’ thing seriously. This is the real Joe. He is – and always has been – a cabbie’s cabbie.”
Indeed, swigging from a flask of tea with his palm jammed permanently on the horn, Biden has never seemed happier.
Naturally, there have been setbacks: a furious row with a pair of US tourists outside the Silk Market over a fare to Wangfujing and an alleged punch-up at a cab rank over the country’s debt ceiling debate. With signs of a scuffle still on his face, though, Biden wasn’t talking.
“Need a taxi?” Biden asked reporters impatiently. “If not, don’t waste my time: I don’t even start getting paid till way after lunch.”
Not to be outdone, however, recently appointed Ambassador Locke declined Biden’s offer of a ride to the embassy. “The bus is just fine,” he told reporters.
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