23 August 2019
A 138 yuan Central Committee Cup is shown with a 38 yuan teacup (inset) with Xi Jinping's image. Photos: Weibo
A 138 yuan Central Committee Cup is shown with a 38 yuan teacup (inset) with Xi Jinping's image. Photos: Weibo

Tea or Xi? Entrepreneur gives Obama a run for his money

If President Barack Obama is on a coffee mug and Taiwan’s Ma Ying-jeou is being pitched as a doll, surely there’s a place for a Xi Jinping memorabilia teacup and umbrella.

Zhang Hongming, a Chinese entrepreneur, hit upon the idea of Xi-themed merchandise after seeing exclusive photos of the Chinese leader during official visits overseas.

He decided to produce a memorabilia teacup in Xi’s honor for the Nov. 11 Singles’ Day shopping festival and launched the merchandise online.

He even had Xi’s image in another version of the teacup, although not on a souvenir umbrella.

The merchandise caught on to his surprise.

Central Committee Cup and National Guest Umbrella, named for the things often associated with Xi on his foreign travels, have gone viral on Zhang’s Learning Fans Weibo account.

Zhang opened an official public account after his Weibo page became inundated with 2.6 million followers.

By all indications, Zhang’s business is doing well by his customers and the authorities. He has not received any complaints from either side.

He said he is not doing it just for the money but to bring the Chinese people “closer to their leader”.

There’s very little to be made from the venture in the first place, but he has sought legal advice about his online store in case there’s a problem.

Meanwhile, the whole idea seems to tie in with a recent initiative by the Communist Party — an online forum where netizens are encouraged to post encouraging words about their president.

Trouble is, it’s not all positive news.

Some disaffected consumers have managed to post complaints about rising prices and stagnant wages.

And the umbrella has become associated with the pro-democracy protest in Hong Kong. 

Then again, these have nothing to do with Zhang.

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