River Crabbed: Spotlight on Xi’s Lunch
In effort to show his humility, President Xi Jinping stepped onto the streets of Beijing to take lunch at a popular steamed dumpling restaurant in late December. His surprise visit briefly put the Qing-feng Steamed Dumpling Shop in the state media spotlight, and petitioners quickly gathered outside the restaurant to seize the exposure. While some netizens were observing that steamed dumplings had become icons of justice, other Weibo users questioned the media’s coverage and public fascination with the presidential lunch. The following censored weibo were selected by CDT Chinese editors from FreeWeibo on December 31:
稳普高清摄像机: This “dumpling eating” news is flooding the screen. There are people flattering, attacking, satirizing, or coldly watching; there are those who are happy, frustrated, or vexed—different people are acting and commenting in different ways, like a live drama. It seems that anti-corruption, constitutionalism, freedom, democracy, human rights, and the people’s livelihood are all less important than eating steamed dumplings! And all the while that [Shinzo] Abe brat has been acting like a spoiled kid. It doesn’t matter what trouble you stir up or what ghosts you worship, the Celestial Empire has great steamed dumplings!
美国所长: The Xinhua News Agency reports on its weibo: This morning, the General Secretary of CCP waited in line to buy the steamed dumpling. He paid, carried the plates and took the food all by himself. The news was accompanied by photos taken at the scene. This reminds me of US President Obama. He often visits fast food restaurants on the street and even buys burgers for White House employees. However, the mainland Chinese media often use the phrase “publicity stunt” when to report President Obama’s man-of-the-people actions.
假装在纽约: Politics are always hypocritical. Politicians are always unreliable. Americans are so used to publicity stunts that most of them give the cold shoulder to Obama for waiting in line to buy a burger. They don’t even bother to rubberneck. Mostly no one would be so deeply touched. They know that the politicians flatter them for the ballots in their hands.
中青报曹林V: When reporting news of [Xi eating] steamed dumplings, please don’t focus on him “waiting in line by himself, paying by himself, carrying or taking the steamed dumplings by himself”. These phrases seem so belittling and sarcastic, and could trigger negative reactions. When my wife saw the media using these phrases online, she said: “Seems like they’re describing a growing child who has finally learned to take care of himself.”
When something disappears from the Internet in China, netizens joke that it has been “river-crabbed,” a play on the euphemism “harmonized.” River Crabbed (河蟹档案) is a collection of blog post titles, weibo, and other materials censored from their original sources on Chinese websites, either found by CDT or brought to our attention by outside projects.