BEIJING — Chinese President Xi Jinping dropped in unexpectedly Saturday at a traditional Beijing bun shop, where he queued up, ordered and paid for a simple lunch of buns stuffed with pork and onions, green vegetables, and stewed pig livers and intestines.
Such visits are extremely rare – if not unheard of – for top Chinese leaders, who are usually surrounded by heavy security and are not known for mingling with the public other than at scheduled events.
After spotting Xi, fellow diners took photos of the president and shared them on China’s social media. State media reposted the photos on their microblog accounts, and the official Xinhua News Agency reported about Xi’s lunch on its Chinese-language news site.
“Had it not been for the photos, it would be incredulous to believe Xi, as a dignified president and party chief, should eat at a bun shop,” author Wu Xiqi wrote in an editorial carried by the ruling Communist Party’s official news site. “Xi’s act has subverted the traditional image of Chinese officials, ushering a warm, people-first gust of wind that is very touching indeed.”
The manager of the Qing-Feng Steamed Dumpling Shop, who gave only her family name, He, when reached by phone, said Xi and a small entourage arrived at the no-frills eatery in western Beijing at around noon without prior notification. She said Xi paid 21 yuan ($3.40) for his lunch.
“There was no special security measure during his stay,” the manager said. “Customers could freely enter and leave the restaurant, and many took photos with him.”
In one photo, a chef posed with Xi, who continued eating his meal as the picture was taken.