An acupuncturist in New York has taken it upon himself to keep a diary on behalf of Xi Jinping. “Everyone knows President Xi is too busy to keep a diary,” Min Zhang explains, under the pen name He Anquan, at the blog President Xi’s Diary (习总日记), where he “devotes himself to the work of the volunteer fifty center.” He has kept his irreverent blog since April 2013, and intends to update it until Xi steps down in 2022.
He has a curious sense of humor, exemplified by a short autobiography he posted to his personal blog in August. As a university student in Shanghai, he was a “loafer” whose alcoholic father left him and his mother to fend for themselves. He claims his mother became a madam to make ends meet, and that when the young He learned of this he “shamelessly thought he had money and went out and squandered it, even on prostitutes.” A middling student of Western medicine, he turned to traditional Chinese medicine—at which he is also middling, but knows enough to “fool the foreign devils.”
More daring than He’s sardonic self-portrait is his assumption of Xi Jinping’s voice. On his YouTube channel, supporters marvel that he “dares to show his face,” instead of staying safely behind his pen name.
CDT has translated the October 17 entry of “President Xi’s Diary,” in which the imaginary Xi exchanges text messages with President Barack Obama about the U.S.’s intention to conduct “freedom of navigation” operations within 12 nautical miles of Chinese claims in the South China Sea. The People’s Republic has so far reclaimed 2,900 acres of land in the South China Sea, building up reefs to make space large enough for airfields.
President Xi’s Diary
October 17, 2015
The U.S. military threatened to challenge our sovereignty over the 12 nautical miles surrounding the South China Sea islands. Right away, I invited them to steer their little boats into the East China Sea, the North Sea, the Yellow Sea, the Bohai Sea instead.
They were like, no, no, we’re only going to the South China Sea.
Whatever, all I could do was text President Obama: “If something’s up, let’s talk.”
Obama: We can talk about anything else, just not this.
Xi: What are you trying to do?
Obama: You’re getting carried away with yourself over there. I’m afraid you’ll do something stupid, so we’re splashing a little water in your face to wake you up.
Xi: Do tell.
Obama: We don’t recognize your claim to the area within 12 nautical miles of the South China Sea islands.
Xi: Okay, right to the point. Now that’s not a Chinese characteristic.
Obama: In today’s world, as long as the U.S. is around, it’s not China’s turn to make the rules. We’re not playing that game.
Xi: You wouldn’t before. That’s why Comrade Deng Xiaoping came up with “hiding your brightness and biding your time.” But now we’re the world’s second largest economy, and our military is growing stronger. We drop warships like dumplings into boiling water—we started work on two aircraft carriers at the same time. There’s no comparison between the China of before and the China now. So we proclaim our sovereignty over the territory within the historical Nine-Dashed Line, the sphere of influence at our doorstep, and you still begrudge us this one little crumb. How stingy.
Obama: Everyone gets mixed up along the way, but I see what you mean. Something about “The Pacific Ocean is big enough for the U.S. and China,” something about a “new type of great power relationship,” something about the “East China Sea Air Defense Identification Zone.” You’ve sugar-coated the same pill as before, you’re singing the same song. It’s just that you’ve stiffened your wings and strengthened your arms, and you want to carve out your sphere of influence. Tell me I’m right.
Xi: President Obama has God-given intelligence. That’s exactly it.
Obama: Well, thank you. Now, let me make myself clear. The reason we didn’t pay attention to the South China Sea before is that you didn’t have the means to encroach on any territory. Everyone lived in peace, and ships from all nations passed freely. Now you’ve jumped on the economic globalization bandwagon. You’ve got money now, so you’ve built a few naval ships and gotten ahead of yourself by trying to bring the South China Sea into your sphere of influence. I’ve got two words for you: drop it.
Xi: You’re scaring me. I thought it was called “dreaming.”
Obama: How can you joke at a time like this?
Xi: I can’t help it, I’m a funny guy. Chairman Mao once said, “Let the American winds blow and Soviet waves beat, better far than idly sneaking out of a courtyard.”
Obama: President Xi, today I’ll reveal the U.S.’s bottom line, so that you won’t have to get lost in fantasyland or get so revved up that you don’t stop until you hit the wall. In regard to the economy, 30 years of coasting along, living it up, and just chilling were more than enough. We ought to put you guys under dual designation. Within the allotted time frame, first sign the BIT, then sign the TPP. As for the military, the line was drawn when you became secretary-general of the Chinese Communist Party in November 2012. We don’t recognize anything that you did after you took office. We don’t recognize the East China Sea Air Defense Identification Zone, and we don’t recognize your 12 nautical mile sovereignty around the South China Sea islands.
Xi: We’re a lot more powerful than we were 30 years ago. Do you recognize this fact?
Obama: I recognize that.
Xi: And haven’t we taken on a lot more global responsibility over the last 30 years?
Xi: Every time Kim Jong Un aims a guided missile at South Korea or Japan, we immediately send money over. In order to stimulate the local economies, we goad Chinese consumers to shop in the U.S., Europe, and Japan.
Obama: How do you goad them?
Xi: We point out that the U.S. is a hostile force, and we appeal for a boycott of Japanese goods. The Chinese people are stubborn, they like to do the opposite of whatever the government tells them to.
Obama: The Chinese people are a great people.
Xi: Aren’t they? With people like this, how can you have the heart to bully them?
Obama: No, we’re bullying the Chinese Communist Party, not the Chinese people.
Xi: In China, the Chinese Communist Party is China. It is our homeland, it is the mother and father of our people.
Obama: Let’s not get off-topic. You’re waiting for the arrival of our warships, aren’t you?
Xi: If you guys have the nerve to come, I’ll have the nerve to shoot.
Obama: If you have the nerve to shoot, I’ll have the nerve to come. Of course, even if you don’t shoot, I’ll still come.
Xi: You really don’t believe I’ll have the nerve to shoot?
Obama: We Americans have a different way of thinking than you Chinese. We’ll come directly, and we’ll be prepared for combat. We won’t think about whether or not you’ll shoot. If you do open fire, we’ll just return fire.
Xi: We won’t open fire. We’ll chase you away.
Obama: We’ll just see whose warships are tougher.
Xi: Fine, fine, I guess I’m a little afraid of you.
Obama: Ha ha, so you’ve shown your weakness. How are you going to explain it to your people?
Xi: The Chinese people are stupid and easy to trick.
Obama: How will you trick them? Let’s hear it. Enlighten me.
Xi: Chinese culture is expansive and profound. You foreigners are incapable of comprehending it.
Obama: If you don’t want to say, that’s fine. It doesn’t have anything to do with me, anyway.
Xi: Fine, fine, I’ll tell you. Actually, it’s not all that complicated. We would just block foreign news, and avoid at all costs admitting that your warship had entered the 12 nautical miles.
Obama: Then I’ll deploy the Marine Corps to the islands.
Xi: I’ll erase the photos.
Obama: I don’t want to fight with you. After all, we’d enter the 12 nautical miles for the world to see, not for the Chinese people to see.
Xi: We’re the opposite of you guys. We only do things for our people to see. As long as we can hide it from the Chinese and prevent them from knowing the truth, it’s all good.
Obama: It’s tough, keeping that up for 66 years.
Xi: Not just 66 years, over 90 years. Would you like to learn how? I’ll teach you for free.
Obama: Thanks, but that technique only works in China.
Xi: What you mean to say is that the Chinese people are stupid, am I right?
Obama: I didn’t say that.
Xi: But that’s what you meant. Tomorrow I’ll tell the Chinese people that the President of the United States thinks they’re stupid.
Obama: I apologize, please don’t say that to the Chinese people.
Xi: As long as your warships don’t enter the 12 nautical miles, I won’t say it.
Obama: Oh, fine. I fold. You’re a real scoundrel.
Xi: You Americans are the scoundrels, big scoundrels.
Obama: You’re a little scoundrel. A little scoundrel who bullies his own people.
Xi: If I wanted to bully the countries around the South China Sea, would you let me?
Obama: Uh, I misspoke again. I do apologize.
Translation by Heidi and Anne Henochowicz.