An official Chinese government news service lobbed a racial slur at outgoing U.S. Ambassador Gary Locke, calling the third-generation Chinese-American a "rotten banana" — an Asian with Western values.
"When a banana sits out for long, its yellow peels will always rot, not only revealing its white core but also turning into the stomach-churning color of black," the China News Service editorial said, according to the Associated Press.
The invective shocked some members of the Chinese public, who have applauded Locke in the past, and the State Department declined to respond to the rhetoric.
"I'm not going to dignify the name-calling in that editorial with a formal response," agency spokeswoman Jen Psaki said.
"I will take the opportunity ... to thank Ambassador Locke for his outstanding service and note and point you to what Secretary Kerry said in his statement yesterday late, calling him a champion of human dignity and a relentless advocate for American values."
Locke was the ambassador for two and a half years and was in charge when a blind Chinese activist sought shelter in the embassy and later left China for the U.S. Referring to that episode, the editorial also called Locke "a guide dog for the blind."
He also focused attention on China's smog problem and exposed the danger of an air particulate called PM2.5. But the pseudonymous author of the editorial seemed to blame him for the pollution.
"When he arrived, so did Beijing's smog," it said "With his departure, Beijing's sky suddenly turned blue."
The editorial also mocked Locke's language skills and said his Chinese ancestors would disown him.
Locke, the former governor of Washington state, is being replaced by former Montana Sen. Max Baucus.
— Tracy Connor and Catherine Chomiak