On the morning of 25 February, Xi Jinping made a surprise appearance at the shopping and restaurant street Nanluoguxiang 南锣鼓巷 in Beijing. Photographers and a camera crew were ready to record the scene, and pictures soon appeared on social media. With Beijing currently enveloped in a grey blanket of smog, many who viewed pictures of Xi during his stroll in Nanluoguxiang made mention of the fact that he was clearly not wearing a face mask. The Beijing News on Weibo used the phrase “同呼吸，共命运!” (Breathing together, mutual destiny) to describe Xi’s visit.
South China Morning Post quoted one social media user as asking, “Will he make stinky tofu or double-layered milk custard famous this time?” in reference to Xi’s last surprise appearance at a Qingfeng steamed bun shop in December. After Xi turned up at the restaurant two months ago, the newspaper reports, the place has become somewhat of a tourist attraction.
Xi visited two courtyards in the Yuer Hutong and asked residents about their living conditions, the Legal Evening News said in a Weibo post. Xi asked the residents if they wanted a photo taken with him, the Beijing Times said.
Beijing’s Communist Party Secretary Guo Jinlong and Mayor Wang Anshun were photographed accompanying the president.
The visit did not seem to be spontaneous. At least two television cameras were seen filming the stroll.
Chen Heng, the owner of Chen’s Small Intestine Restaurant, complained in a Weibo post that several days earlier “various law enforcement agencies began checking [the street] like mad dogs. Just for this one [short] moment”.
Links and sources
Xinhua: Xinhua Insight: Xi’s smogbound hutong tour boosts populist image
South China Morning Post: President Xi Jinping spotted out and about in popular Beijing tourist zone