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Since September, Liu's shop had been doing a brisk business selling the hugely popular Oba Mao T-shirts, purses and magnets. Oba Mao became one of the hottest-selling items in town, particularly among urban young people and online "netizens." Oba Mao melded two iconic images -- even if no one could explain precisely what it meant.
"My understanding is it is related with Obama's China visit," said one sales clerk from a shop selling matchbooks with colorful covers. "They think that stuff with Obama's image might be insulting."
But neighbors in nearby shops reported that they were all visited last week by uniformed officers from Beijing's Industry and Commerce Administration and were told they were not allowed to sell anything with Obama's image, and particularly not Oba Mao items.