'Hello beautiful!' Xi Jinping's 'flirtatious' greeting surprises China

First Vice Premier stunned China watchers with his casual humour during a recent trip to America, and now President Xi Jinping has been heard calling a young woman "beautiful" in front of reporters

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 23 July, 2013, 11:36am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 24 July, 2013, 11:06am

While journalists around the world reported the birth of a baby for Catherine, the Duchess of Cambridge, Chinese media on Tuesday were focused on President Xi Jinping, 59 - who was heard calling a young woman in central Wuhan city “beautiful” in front of reporters.

This came just days after former president Jiang Zemin gave Xi his full backing during a meeting with former US secretary of state Henry Kissinger, calling him a “very capable and talented state leader” 

“Hello beautiful,” Xi hailed local woman Guo Tingting during his visit to “Wuhan Citizens Home,” a government service centre on Monday, according to the Chutian Metropolis Daily.

“This is definitely better than calling women “comrades,” a microblogger wrote. Often used by communist party members when referring to fellow cadres, the word "comrade"  has now taken on a more popular meaning in China - “homosexual".

Guo, who was apparently exhilarated after her good looks were acknowledged by the president, told her work mates: “Who will dare not to call me a beautiful after this?,” media reports said.

While most people seemed to appeciate the casual way Xi greeted Guo, some were critical.

“That sounded quite frivolous,” one microblogger wrote.

“China needs a  leader who can make meaningful exchanges,” another said, “Not someone who speaks fancy words.”

While Chinese leaders are often mocked for their stiff facial expressions, immaculate black hair,  and lack of humour, some officials in Xi's administration are believed to have adopted a more personable leadership style than their predecessors.

China’s Vice-Premier Wang Yang, for instance, had recently compared the relationship between China and US to a “straight” marriage. His "humour"  was applauded by Chinese media.