Chinese President Braves Bad Air for Rare Public Appearance

b_250_0_16777215_00_images_obgrabber_2014-02_ffd60eb056.jpgFeng Li/Getty Images (BEIJING) -- Chinese President Xi Jinping made a rare public appearance Tuesday on a popular Beijing street. His visit came on Day 6 of air so hazardous, the city has been placed under a pollution alert. Social media lit up with the news -- mostly praising the leader for walking outside without a mask on to filter out harmful air particles.

“Breathing together, sharing the same fate,” read one post on Weibo, China’s Twitter. The street -- Nanluoguxiang -- is packed with cafes and bars, and is known for selling "stinky tofu." Xi did not partake, although two months ago, when he made his first similar appearance at a local restaurant, he ordered dumplings, since named in his honor.  

The president did allow photos to be taken as he visited two local homes, inquiring about living conditions. But it was breathing the bad air that won him the most praise. "Right on! Big Xi didn't wear a face mask," wrote one blogger, as reported in the South China Morning Post.

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