Everyone knows meeting a top Chinese leader grants more bragging rights than jamming with the ghost of Jimi Hendrix. Meeting a Chinese president is really the only thing a US president has to look forward to during his term. It’s just something about Chinese leaders’ disregard for popularity or public support, their mystique – and the fact that they’re usually buried behind meter-thick titanium walls that could sustain a nuclear blast.
Therefore, it must come as a life-changing shock when Xi Jinping, who became China’s president about a month ago, hops in your cab. This allegedly happened on the evening of March 1. Guo Lixin, a 46-year-old Beijing cab driver says he gave Xi a 26-minute ride through the capital’s heavy traffic. Although Xi had not yet been appointed president at the time, he had been the Communist Party chief for months. Guo was elated nonetheless. One thing’s for sure: The next cabbie that receives Xi better be wearing a diaper.
Authorities have denied the cab ride took place, and the Hong Kong newspaper that broke the news has pulled the original story.
Xi might hit the town more than we expect. CER caught wind of a groundless rumor this week that Xi was at the China premier of Django Unchained, a gory Quentin Tarantino film depicting America’s slavery days. Jamie Foxx plays a freed slave who goes in search of his still-captive wife. An edited version debuted in China on April 11 but was pulled – in mid-screening in some theaters – due to even the edited version being too profane for virgin Chinese eyes. According to unreliable sources, Xi was visibly upset when the film stopped and made various comments about the difficulties of getting in and out of China’s top-level political compound Zhongnanhai.
What does a more accessible Xi mean for China? That’s not clear yet. The last Chinese leader to creep secretly through Beijing was Qing Dynasty’s Qianlong, who would leave the Forbidden City dressed as peasant, legend has it. Let’s hope Xi and Qianlong don’t have too much in common. The Qing emperor wasn’t big on reform, but rather on banning or burning books. He also saw the Qing court’s silver reserves drop from an all-time high to a disgraceful low, tipping the dynasty into decline. The new president, on the contrary, is much more likely to be a reformer.
CER thinks Xi just needed some time unchained from Beijing political life.
As far as Django goes, there’s word that China may re-edit the edited version of the film. There’s also talk of simply playing the 1903 silent version of Uncle Tom’s Cabin, which reportedly has far less cursing and nudity. At any rate, the loss of Django will give Chinese moviegoers more time to appreciate some of their own cultural exploits, such as the highly original Finding Mr Right, a romantic comedy that takes place in Seattle.