Xi impresses with steamed bun lunch

By Yang Jingjie and Bai Tiantian Source:Global Times Published: 2013-12-30 1:08:02

A person shows a photo of President Xi Jinping dining at a local downtown branch of Qing-Feng Steamed Dumpling Shop in Beijing on Sunday. People lined up at the restaurant on Sunday to order the same dishes Xi ordered on the previous day. Photo: CFP

Dishes ordered by Xi Photo: CFP

President Xi Jinping's surprise visit to a fast food eatery in Beijing has drawn unprecedented attention over the past weekend, which shored up his everyman image that had rarely been seen among top-level Chinese officials in the past.

Blurred photos of Xi queuing at a restaurant, holding his own plates and dining at a table were posted online by Net users on Saturday afternoon, and soon went viral.

It was soon identified that Xi had paid a spontaneous visit to a downtown branch of Qing-Feng Steamed Dumpling Shop and had his lunch there at noon on Saturday, after his visit to a heating supply company and nursing home in Beijing earlier that day.

Given no official media accompanied the president during his surprise visit to the eatery, all the photos and videos were taken by diners with their cellphones.

The photos posted on the Internet showed Xi dined at the restaurant with several staffers, but did not have a large entourage.

Local media later cited witnesses as saying that there were no roadblocks or a large security contingent throughout Xi's visit, and the eatery was not pre-informed.

According to the Beijing News, the president was recognized by diners while queuing to order and insisted on waiting in line.

Xi ordered half a dozen steamed buns with a filling of pork and scallion, plus side dishes of vegetables and stewed pork liver and intestine, which cost him 21 yuan ($3.46).

In an amateur video recorded by a cellphone later posted on news portal ifeng.com, Xi could be seen eating his lunch while other diners posed for photos near him, which did not apparently disturb him.

The Beijing News reported that the president accepted all the requests for photos and handshakes, and exchanged a few words with other diners and a restaurant manager.

Xi's lunch soon became the most popular topic on the Internet.

The revelation drew local residents to the restaurant over the weekend, who ordered the same dishes as Xi did and posed at the table he dined at.

Previously, US Vice President Joe Biden and Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew's respective visits to local restaurants in Beijing had caused a stir among the Chinese public, who have longed to run into their own leaders in a similar everyday haunt.

"Xi's dropping by at the eatery underlines his new political concept. It sent out a signal of his man-of-the-people image, and showed his efforts to reach out to the people," Zhang Dinghuai, a political science professor with Shenzhen University, told the Global Times.

Such an encounter with top leaders is rare in China, as mostly they travel with heavy security.

Last year, the Party's new leadership issued new rules to promote a new work style, which included curtailing official motorcades and cutting down traffic controls.

The Hong Kong-based Takungpao paper commented that during the past six decades, Chinese leaders' image has transformed gradually from a "god" to an "authoritative figure" and finally to an ordinary person.

Tong Zhiwei, a professor with the East China University of Political Science and Law in Shanghai, told the Global Times that Xi's acts are in line with the core values in his political philosophy, which prompted him to launch a campaign against formalism, bureaucratism, hedonism and extravagancy.

Being out of touch has been a major public complaint toward some officials.

In June, the Communist Party of China launched a "mass line" campaign to address the issue.

The People's Daily said on its official Weibo account that Xi's simple lunch reminded officials that they should not adopt a condescending manner in dealing with the public, and that mixing with the public should not be breaking news, rather a routine matter.

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