- Chinese President Xi Jinping took a light-hearted photo with Santa over a decade ago.
- An academic posted the image online and said it was the “craziest” thing she learned at a conference in Finland.
- Mr Xi traveled to Finland to visit the logging industry and took a detour to Santa’s abode – the North Pole.
A seemingly bizarre photo of Chinese President Xi Jinping sitting with Santa Claus has resurfaced online.
Emma Ashford, a Washington scholar, posted the picture of on a trip to Finland in 2010 for a foreign policy conference on Wednesday.
Ms Ashford said on Twitter that the Winter War or Cold War arms control was not the “craziest” thing conference members had learned during the trip.
“It was a surprising discovery that Xi Jinping visited Lapland in 2010 and had his picture taken with Santa Claus,” she said.
The tweet has received more than 3,000 likes, and a number of people have been surprisedeasy going with Father Christmas.
“We thought it was photoshopped, but no. This is real!,” Ms Ashford wrote.
As vice president, Xi traveled to Finland in 2010 to visit the country’s growing logging industry.
With hard work also comes downtime. Later, he stopped in the town of Rovaniemi in Lapland, Finland – otherwise known as the North Pole, or “the official residence of Santa Claus”.
Santa Claus village supervisor Antti Nikander said Xi couldn’t stop smiling when he met Santa, according to the Financial Times.
Three years after the photo was taken, which has since been framed and hung in the Santa Claus Village, Mr Xi rose to become the most powerful man in China.
China under the rule of the Chinese Communist Party is officially a secular country.
While the country recognizes religions, there is strict control over how people practice their faith across the country – including the display of Christmas decorations and festivals.
Several local governments in China have worked to ease public tension around Christmas. The most prominent is Langfang in the northern part of the country, where all Christmas celebrations were banned in 2018.
That includes any image of Santa Claus.