Politics

Foreigners love Xi Jinping, according to People's Daily

By Crystal Tse

 

"He is super charismatic," said a woman from California.

A Korean woman said, "If my future husband is like him, I will be happy."

"I would like a president like this," said another woman.

These comments came from a video published this week by the People's Daily, a Chinese newspaper often described as the Communist Party's mouthpiece, during President Xi Jinping's visit to the United States. The video claims to show what foreigners (or at least, foriegners living in China) think about the Chinese president.

The videos were filmed at university campuses around Beijing and featured international students, most of them Americans. It was first posted on YouTube and Twitter, both of which are blocked in China. A subtitled version was posted on the People's Daily mobile site hours later.

An American student, wearing lapel pins of both the US and Chinese flag, said he owns a copy of Mr Xi's book The Governance of China and "would love to read it". Chinese viewers who don't speak English will not know he hasn't actually read the book, because, as the New York Times pointed out, the Chinese subtitle says he "loves reading it".

In the video, the president is referred to as "Xi Dada". Dada is a respectful and friendly nickname for men who are older than fathers.

"I really like his foreign policy. He really try to communicate with all the countries," said 20-year-old Thibault Odiot in the video.

Mr. Odiot, a French-school sponsored student who is pursuing a master's degree in China Studies at Beijing Foreign Studies, said during a Skype interview that the speculation that students were paid to speak in the video is untrue, but he admits to having self-censored.

"When you are a foreigner living in the country, you don't want to be in trouble," he said. He says he was not the best person to be interviewed, because he does not know enough to comment on Mr Xi's performance as president.

He laughs off comments from Internet users around the world but said he is fully aware that he now lives behind the "great firewall".

One student in the video described Mr. Xi as a "big brother." Some internet users have suggested this comment is accurate: "Like a big brother, 1984″, referring to the dictator in George Orwell's classic book.

 

(Edited and copy-edited by Mari Chow)

 

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