China

House of Cards and other things about Xi's speech

Chinese President Xi Jinping peppered his speech with pop culture references while addressing business leaders in Seattle. From Kevin Spacey to Ernest Hemingway these are the moments where pop met political.

House of Cards

Image copyright Netflix
Image caption Knock knock: the series stars Kevin Spacey as a Machiavellian US politician who plots his way to the top

When speaking about China's leadership, Mr Xi referred to House of Cards in a nod to Chinese leaders' reported fascination with the US show about Washington political intrigue.

Since Mr Xi took office in 2012, authorities have embarked on a tough anti-corruption campaign within the Chinese Communist Party, with many analysts saying the campaign may be a cover for a systematic purge of key opponents.

Mr Xi dismissed this as speculation on Tuesday, saying that the campaign was necessary to maintain the trust and support of the Chinese people.

"For a while we have been strongly investigating corruption cases, steadfastly punishing both tigers and flies, according to the people's wishes," he said, using his well-known reference to both high-ranking and low-ranking officials.

"This is not a power struggle, there is no 'House of Cards," he added with a smile.

Hemingway and mojitos

Image copyright Central Press
Image caption Mr Xi singled out Hemingway's masterpiece The Old Man and the Sea in his speech

Mr Xi is known to be a voracious reader, and spoke on his fascination with American writers when making a point about cultural understanding.

He name-dropped Thomas Paine, Mark Twain, Jack London, Walt Whitman and Henry David Thoreau as some of the authors whom he read in his youth.

Ernest Hemingway and his masterpiece The Old Man and the Sea got special mention.

Mr Xi said it "left a deep impression" on him, and added that on his first visit in Cuba, he had visited the place where Hemingway wrote the book. On his second, he had a mojito - "Hemingway's favourite drink" - at a bar frequented by the writer.

"I wanted to understand the spirit and atmosphere of the place where Hemingway wrote that story. I believe that when it comes to different cultures and civilisations, we need to deeply understand them," he said.

Mr Xi has mentioned his fascination with Hemingway - and the same anecdote - before at an arts and culture symposium in Beijing last year, where he had talked about his love for foreign authors including Leo Tolstoy and Fyodor Dostoevsky.

Sleepless in Seattle

Image copyright AFP
Image caption Hanks (right) played a widower who eventually falls in love with a reporter played by Ryan (left)

Forget the rain, grunge music and the Space Needle - in China, Seattle is known primarily as the namesake of the 1993 romantic comedy starring Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan.

"The film Sleepless in Seattle has made this city extremely attractive to the Chinese people," said Mr Xi when praising the first city in his US tour.

The movie is so popular in China that it inspired a tribute called Finding Mr Right in 2014 - its Chinese title translates to "Beijing meets Seattle" .

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption China's Meg Ryan? Actress Tang Wei played the lead role in Finding Mr Right, a Chinese homage to Sleepless to Seattle

Starring one of China's top actresses, Tang Wei, it involves a Beijing mistress travelling to Seattle to give birth - she picks that city because she is a fan of the film - who ends up falling for a divorced doctor there.

The film makes several references to Nora Ephron's original film, even ending with the two protagonists meeting at the top of the Empire State Building in Manhattan - a landmark Mr Xi may visit when he goes to New York at the end of his trip.

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