Anyone who has taken a stroll down any Beijing street with its share of tourist vendors has likely run into the famous “Obama-Mao” or “Obamao” merchandise — shirts and bags that portray a cartoon hybrid of U.S. President Obama and Mao Zedong. Well, now that the FLOTUS and company are currently gracing China with their presence, Chinese authorities have apparently put the axe on any selling of Obamao — at least while they’re in the area…
An e-mail sent by a correspondent via The Weekly Standard tells of the journalist’s experience at the Great Wall during Mrs. Obama’s vist:
“After taking the gondola back down to the parking lot, several reporters fanned out and stopped at t-shirt stalls to investigate a tip — that merchants had been told to temporarily suspend sales of t-shirts that show President Obama in a Mao hat.
That tip turned out to be true. Several merchants denied carrying such items, but one merchant quietly took this correspondent to the back of her tent and showed off a whole box of the popular, normally seen t-shirts. As we were negotiating prices — she wanted 360 yuan, or roughly $60, an outrageous starting price — other merchants came by, and in Chinese, told her to be careful. The merchant became visibly rattled and put the t-shirts away.
Another reporter in the pool had a similar experience with a separate vender, but managed to snap a photo of one of the t-shirts. I would be glad to share with anyone who wants to investigate why Chinese authorities made sure, for a day, that Mutianyu was visibly free of Obama-Mao t-shirts.”
Although it would be hard to imagine keeping a secret like this from the Obamas with the internet around, the Chinese government seems intent on doing its best to save face. May the odds be ever in their favor…
By Alex Stevens
[Image via Gawker]