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Outgoing president, rising actor: the career of China’s Obama impersonator

By Caryn Schwartz (People's Daily Online)    16:17, November 14, 2016

(File photo of Xiao Jiguo)

As U.S. President Barack Obama prepares to leave office in January, another man – one who shares a physical appearance with Obama but not much else – is also preparing for some major life changes.

Xiao Jiguo was first told that he looked like Obama in 2008, after the latter was elected and the former chose to cut his long hair short. In a profile done by Henan news site Yuqinge.com, Xiao said he didn’t even know who Obama was at the time, but when he eventually saw a picture, he had to admit the resemblance. Later, he found out that even their birthdays were almost the same – just one day apart, though, at 30, Xiao is significantly younger than his American lookalike.

(File photo of Xiao Jiguo)

Xiao is an actor, but he was a mostly unknown name until 2012, when he performed on a televised talent competition. Since then, he has had several small roles in Chinese films. He also earns money making appearances as Obama at various corporate functions, fundraisers and other events around China. Recently, he starred in a comedy titled “’Obama’ goes on Blind dates,” according to the BBC.

Although Xiao makes a living by pretending to be the U.S. president, his impression of the eloquent Obama has one persistent flaw: Xiao speaks only Chinese.

“I can only speak a few words of English,” he acknowledged in the Yuqinge.com profile, “so when I do my impression, most of what I’m saying is made-up English. Nobody can understand it.”

(File photo of Xiao Jiguo)

Nevertheless, Xiao has enjoyed real success over the past few years. He told the BBC that he has earned at least 100,000 RMB ($14,700) every month since last year. Perhaps it is unsurprising, then, that when asked by NBC what he would say to President Obama if he ever had the opportunity to meet the man, Xiao answered:

“If one day I could have the chance to meet President Obama, I would say thanks so much to him. I think there is some bond between us.” 

(File photo of Xiao Jiguo)

(File photo of Xiao Jiguo)

(For the latest China news, Please follow People's Daily on Twitter and Facebook)(Web editor: Yuan Can, Bianji)

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