"Xi Dada, so cute!" Foreign students shower Xi Jinping with praise in PR video

Chinese President Xi Jinping is "cute" and "handsome" according to a propaganda video produced by China's People's Daily.

Story highlights

  • Chinese People's Daily newspaper releases cheesy propaganda video
  • The video features foreign students lavishing praise on Xi Jinping
  • The students describe China's President as "so cute" and "super-charismatic"

Hong Kong (CNN)Chinese President Xi Jinping has faced a barrage of criticism from U.S. presidential hopefuls recently, but American and other foreign students living in China think he's a handsome, wise and humble leader, who's strong on foreign policy.

At least that's the view according to a far-fetched propaganda video produced by People's Daily, the ruling Communist Party's official newspaper, that's quickly gone viral for all the wrong reasons.
"Handsome. Yeah, he is super charismatic," gushes a blonde-haired, blue-eyed Californian girl, who later adds that she read him a poem at her university.
    "His face is a little bit cute. Like everybody looks at him and they just like him," an animated male student from Austria says.
    "Not only a businessman, he's also a family man," adds one student from Mexico.
    From one cheesy soundbite to the next, the video features fresh-faced students from all over the world, including the U.S., France, Australia, Germany and Russia. They all lavish outlandish praise on "Xi Dada" -- a local nickname for Xi that means "Uncle Xi" -- sometimes to the point of incredulity.
    "I really like his foreign policy. He really tries to communicate with all the countries," one French student says. It's a statement unlikely to sit well with China's neighbors Malaysia, the Philippines,Taiwan and Vietnam, who are disputing China's territorial claims to waters and island chains in the South China Sea.
    "If my future husband is like him, I will be happy," adds one straight-faced Korean girl.

    China's Soft Power Push

    China's President Xi Jinping began his first official visit to U.S. on September 22
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      China's President Xi Jinping began his first official visit to U.S. on September 22

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    China's President Xi Jinping began his first official visit to U.S. on September 22 02:56
    Entitled "Who is Xi Dada?" the video was initially released on YouTube and Twitter -- sites that are ironically blocked in China -- on the eve of Xi's first official U.S. state visit.
    It's a small part of a much broader PR campaign by the People's Daily, that has produced pro-China video and print stories of varying quality that feature foreign students and businesses to coincide with Xi's tour, that runs from September 22 to 28.
    It's also a reflection of a concerted and continuing soft power push by China, which has invested heavily in scholarships and facilities to attract foreign students and in turn promote diplomacy. More than 370,000 students studied in China in 2014, according to the Chinese Ministry of Education.
    And although the video may be both laughable and puzzling for people outside of China, the stars of "Who is Xi Dada?" may simply be young people trying to please their hosts.
    "I think the students were being polite and were naive about the international reaction," said Paul Gillis, an American and co-director of Peking University's Guanghua School of Management in China.