Where In The World Is Obamao?

A funny thing happened during Michelle Obama's public relations tour of China (where taxpayers are privileged to pay $8,400 for each night of her lodgings): T-shirts, coin purses and posters that show President Barack Obama portrayed as Chairman Mao are normally available for sale at the Great Wall. But on Sunday, when First Lady Michelle Obama visited the Chinese tourist spot with her daughters, the so-called “Obamao” souvenirs were no where to be found. "We don’t have them anymore," said one peddler, a woman who declined to give her name. "But if you come back next time, you might find them. You could come tomorrow," the woman said.

The WSJ explains the curious disappearance of the much desired communist-fusion artifacts:

China Real Time managed to find, hiding in the back of many others, one army-green-colored shirt that displayed an Andy Warhol-like picture of Mr. Obama wearing Mao Zedong’s cap. Under it were the words “Serve the People” written in traditional Chinese script. The vendor who owned it declined to sell it, saying they weren’t for sale Sunday. She was willing to sell other T-shirts, such as “I climbed the Great Wall” for 180 yuan, about $29. 


It’s unclear who issued the verdict for the cleanup. Street vendors declined to comment. Such sweeps are common during high-profile visits in China. Vendors at well-known markets for pirated goods in Beijing are sometimes made to put away the name-brand knockoffs during high-level trade talks with the U.S. or European Union. Souvenir vendors also tucked away “Obamao” shirts in 2009, during Mr. Obama’s visit to China.

Everything above makes sense, except for the implicit suggestion that Mrs. Obama seeing an Obamao caricature would be taken by the first lady as an insult. Why?

Actually one thing is confusing :

The T-shirts, which portray Mr. Obama dressed in a Communist Party army green cap with a red star on it, have become common tourist trinkets at the Wall during Mr. Obama’s time in office. Prices of the Obamao shirt vary based on haggling capabilities of the buyer.

But shouldn't the shirts be free, if only for those eligible for free healthcare and Obamaphones?