Following a routine trip to a retirement home in Beijing, Xi Jinping’s celebrity has been enough to cause people to make pilgrimages to the location in Sijiqing and trace the “presidential route” that the Premier of the world’s second largest economy took when he visited the pensioners living there. It is expected that some 7,000 visitors will trace Xi Jinping’s steps at the retirement home this year with a waiting list capped at 5,000. Chinese journalists are calling this phenomenon, reminiscent of the love for Chairman Mao, the “Xi effect.”

The “Xi effect” also graced a dumpling stand outside of a home visited by Xi, with the greasy spoon now being featured on official tours of Beijing and the “Chairman Xi Set Meal,” containing pork intestine stew and dumplings, has become the best seller for the restaurant.

Prior to assuming power many China watchers though that Xi would have trouble gaining control over the Chinese Communist Party, then plagued by infighting and scandals such as the Bo Xilai affair. Not only has Premier Xi Jinping overcome his political opponents but he has also embarked upon the broadest and most ambitious social reform in China in decades, the so-called “China dream.”

Part of this campaign includes the elimination of bureaucracy and government waste as well as a call to all PRC citizens to work together collectively towards a better future.

Some have criticized the much more restricted atmosphere around television and internet media that has emerged since Xi assumed power last year. In addition to the more restricted social atmosphere, Xi’s aggressive stance with regard to Japan and its other East Asian neighbors has placed many on a wary footing with regard to Xi’s policies in the region.

[BBC]