The United States (U.S.) Vice President Joe Biden ended his six-day official visit to China on 22 August, 2011. Most Chinese people do not know whether or not there there has been any diplomatic achievement during this trip, their attention is instead focused on the bowl of noodles Biden had in Beijing.
During Biden's visit to Beijing, the U.S. Ambassador to China, Gary Locke brought him to a small noodle restaurant, and spent RMB 79 (approximately USD 12) for a 5-person meal. In addition, Biden paid the bill without asking for a receipt.
Here is a photo produced by Mingpao Daily (via Sina news) [zh] showing what he ordered:
In a country where government officials’ transportation, overseas travel and banquet expenses account for 60% of all administrative expenses, and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs claims that such expenses are national secrets, Biden's casual meal has won ordinary Chinese people's hearts. To the extent that the Chinese propaganda department finds the news embarrassing for the Chinese authorities and is banning media outlets [zh] from discussing the noodle incident.
Let's take a look at how netizens discuss Biden's noodle meal at Sina Weibo. @artjiejie talks about the incident in a sarcastic tone:
阿特姐姐 [zh]：近来，美国人越来越猖狂地羞辱中国官员; 先是骆家辉自己背着行李带着家眷跑到中国当大使，已使那些惯于别人为其撑伞的老爷们面红耳赤了后又来了副总统拜登，跑到北京小饭馆吃炸酱面，五个人才消费79元！这不明摆着和那些非茅台不饮非鱼翅不食的中国官员作对吗？可见，中美关系紧张，责任全在美方。
[zh]: Recently the Americans keep insulting Chinese government officials. First of all Gary Locke carried his own backpack to come here as ambassador. Such an act has embarrassed those old fellows who demand others to serve them and carry their umbrellas. Now Biden came to a Beijing small shop for a noodle meal and spent only RMB 79! This is of course an enemy gesture to those Chinese government officials who can't enjoy their meal without Moutai wine and shark fin. The U.S. has to be responsible for the tense relations between China and the U.S.
Below is a selection of comments under @artjiejie's thread:
勾恩 美帝国主义亡我之心不死，公然在中国搞和平演变，输出美国的廉洁、勤政、平等、自由、亲民的价值观。必须警惕！！！！切记！(8月25日 08:52)
勾恩 The U.S. imperialist intention never dies out. They are exporting U.S. values, such as honesty, equality, liberty and congeniality to China so as to transform our country peacefully. We have to be aware of that.
千里马常有 转发此微博:可见m国是在打心理战啊！看看一个个国家的命运，我们不得不思考！腐败是最大的犯罪，这是毛主席说的！犯罪多了，警察国家来了！(8月24日 19:53)
千里马常有 reposting: We can see that this is a psychological battle. Look at the fate of other countries and we have to reflect upon our own situation. Corruption is the greatest crime, Mao Tsedong said that. Emerged from the large number of crimes is the police state.
labrador李玉杰 该死的美国人，真他妈侮辱人！不腐败炫富包二奶贪污受贿欺男霸女玩多P戴劳力士抽天价烟打爹骂娘干干女儿大吃大喝嫖妓赌博移民买大房子开大奔法拉利，你个傻逼你当官干什么？(8月24日 14:37)
labrador李玉杰 Damn the Americans, they are humiliating us. What's the use of being a government official if you don't show off your wealth, have a second wife, be corrupt, have a sex party, wear a Rolex, smoke expensive cigars, beat up your parents, xxxx your daughter, have big banquets, buy sex, gamble, migrate, buy luxury homes, drive a Ferrari?
Another Weibo user @dghfdy reposts an imaginary caption story for the Biden's photo:
东莞会飞的鱼 [zh]：美国副总统拜登吃完炸酱面后，站起来，用两个大拇指比划着问周围的顾客：“你们中国是否可以存在两党制？” 旁边的老大爷喝了一口啤酒，沉着应答：“不可能，绝对不可能，因为我们养不起！！” （转）
[zh]: The U.S. Vice President Biden upon finishing his noodle meal, stood up and asked other customers with his two thumbs up, “Can China have a two party system?” The old lad took a sip of beer and answered in a serious tone of voice: “It is impossible, absolutely impossible. We could never afford to feed two parties!!”
Television host Wang Kang (@wgjgs) on the other hand criticizes the political show by pointing out that the whole trip is very expensive:
[zh]: [Biden's noodle meal] It has been revealed that even though Biden only spent less than USD 20 on the noodle meal, the U.S. government have two airplane filled up with staff and equipment. They brought 4 vehicles and 150 security staff with them. They probably would not anticipate that their political show would win so much support. Ordinary Chinese people are too simple and the media is too naive.
However, many Weibo users do not agree with Wang. Below is a selection of comments from the discussion thread:
在地球的另一端 关键是人家还晓得作秀，我们的大佬们连作秀都懒得作。(8月29日 17:42)
在地球的另一端 The point is they know how to do the political show while our big brothers do not even care to perform a good show.
Jalive忑 问题国内的官员连这么让人民天真下都做不到~而且你什么时候知道老胡的出行费用和物资了？我们情愿为一碗炸酱面而天真~也不愿天天被高物价，高房价，高医疗费用，高学费，高饮食风险等等而精明~(8月29日 17:24)
Jalive忑 The issue at stake is that our government officials cannot even fool simple Chinese people – In addition, do you know how much and what President Hu brings with him when he travels aboard? I would rather be naive about the bowl of noodles than be trained to be smart because of the rocket rising inflation, property market, hospital fees, education expenses, as well as food security problems etc.
美牙_ 转发此微博:我觉得这话不客观。毕竟副总统，安保方面花钱是应该的。跟他吃多少钱的面没关系。难道他吃了79的面，就也应该坐普通飞机的经济舱来中国访问吗？我觉得民众之所以对79块钱的炸酱面那么在意，那么赞扬，是因为天朝的官员连装一下都不愿意。官员的腐败是大家有目共睹的。与其说大家为79的面感(8月29日 16:54)
美牙_ reposting: I think this comment is not objective. He is the Vice President of a nation, security protection is necessary. It has nothing to do with how much he spent for food. We can't say because he spent 79 yuan on noodles, he should ride economy class to visit China. People care about and praise the 79 yuan noodles because here, they don't even care to perform. People see how corrupted our government officials are.
Bravo, Joe Biden! What a wonderful Vice President the United States has. He is well-know for his foreign relations skills, but he is just as well-known for his warm and honest individual. I saw many photos of this very important trip to China and beyond, and I realize the importance behind it, but at the end of the day VP Biden always had a great smile on his face and was truly enjoying the interaction of all people he met.
talk about beef towards noodles :P