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Xi Jinping’s ‘wife beater’ a hot topic on Weibo

When President Xi Jinping was winding up his Mexico trip, a set of pictures of him and First Lady Peng Liyuan visiting the Maya ruins were making rounds on Weibo where the eagle-eyed Chinese netizens noticed their President was wearing a “wife beater” underneath his white T shirt. “Xi Dada’s Beixin” suddenly became a buzz word on Weibo despite the tight censorship. (Xi Dada, literally Uncle Xi, is an endearing term used for Xi by many Chinese netizens.)

President Xi, with his wife beater clearly seen, watches a folk dance presentation as his wife Peng Liyuan takes a picture, near the Mayan ruins of Chichen Itza, southern Mexico, Thursday, June 6, 2013. Peng's iphone is also a hot topic on Weibo. Photo: AP

Beixin (背心) is the Chinese word for a sleeveless shirt, which is also called an A-shirt, or a wife-beater in the US. It is a common summer wear for the Chinese men. They either wear it underneath a proper shirt in formal dress, as President Xi did, or casually wear the wife-beater alone. In the dog days of summer, men wearing wife beaters with a fan in their hands used to be a common scene on the streets of China. But increasingly, this piece of clothing is considered unfashionable and even vulgar in some people’s eyes. Wife beaters (the clothes, not the men, sadly) are becoming a rare sight in China’s big cities now.

Perhaps that is one of the reasons the Chinese are picking on their President’s slightly “out of style” but nonetheless very “Chinese” way of dressing. “The big boss should find himself a fashion advisor. Seriously, stop wearing the wife beater underneath the shirt.” suggested @五岳散人, an Internet commentator with a following of 890,000 fans.

Yet some found it to be appealing. @OnlyLady百科 said, “President Xi’s wife beater brings him closer to us. His way of dressing is so endearing.” @君本人 even took a picture of himself wearing the same kind of wife beater and posted it on his Weibo.

"My Beixin is the same as Xi Dada’s!" exclaimed @君本人. Photo:

Some took the chance to poke fun at the president. @小唯1007 said, “Xi Dada is like my dad, wearing an old man’s Beixin underneath his shirt!” @七喀 quipped, “Xi Dada’s wife beater is very Chinese. Perhaps it's also bulletproof?”

Xi’s “fashion choice” also put some people “in a dilemma”, such as @NachtdesOrakels who complained, “David Beckham does not wear wife beater underneath his shirt, but Xi Dada does. Who the hell should I follow now?”

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