From China Digital Space
合鞋 (hé xié) fitting shoe
"Fitting shoe" (合鞋 hé xié) is yet another homonym for "harmonious" (和谐 héxié). This phrase has its roots in a speech delivered by President Xi Jinping that met much netizen ridicule.
While on his first trip abroad as China's president, Xi Jinping delivered a speech at Moscow State Institute of International Relations on March 23, 2013. In his speech [zh] (transcript) [zh], Xi called for cooperation between Russia and China, emphasizing the two nations' shared interests in peace and stability. Xi also countered international criticism of a country's developmental path with the following words:
“Only the wearer of a shoe will know whether or not that shoe fits his foot." Whether or not the path that a country takes towards development is suitable or not, only the citizens of that country have the right to decide.
Netizens quickly took Xi to task for his words, drawing attention to the fact that they—the citizens of China—had little say in their country's path towards development. China Digital Times translated netizen comments relayed by BBC Chinese:
On Tencent Weibo, user @叶海波 says, “If a country’s people lack freedom of speech, is speaking of shoes fitting their feet not a bit extravagant?”
Netizen @施济 thinks, “If the shoe doesn’t fit but is worn continually, this leads to the most suffering.”
User @梧桐老廖 quips, “You let your family wear comfortable shoes, while compelling ours to wear worn-out shoes of the wrong size.”
@天黑不白 raises a question, “But how will they know if this country’s people feel the shoe fits or not?”
User @窈窕老淑女 wonders, “You want try a new pair of shoes to see if they fit? Anyway, everyone’s current shoes are chafing their feet.”
Blogger Wuyue Sanren posted the following soon-to-be deleted comment to his Sina Weibo microgblog:
@五岳散人: My take on the shoe-and-foot question: Whoever buys the shoes has the last word. The common people pay taxes, so they have the right to say whether or not the shoe fits, as well as the style they want. A well-chosen pair of shoes also comes with a warranty and the privilege to exchange or return the items. The shoes themselves don’t have the qualifications to say whether they fit or not. Shoes that do aren’t shoes, they’re shackles.