A pool report from the U.S. press team covering Michelle Obama's tour of China notes that authorities ordered local merchants to hide their stock of "Obama-Mao" T-shirts from a section of the Great Wall where the First Lady and her daughters visited earlier today.
After taking the gondola back down to the parking lot, several reporters fanned out and stopped at t-shirt stalls to investigate a tip — that merchants had been told to temporarily suspend sales of t-shirts that show President Obama in a Mao hat.
That tip turned out to be true. Several merchants denied carrying such items, but one merchant quietly took this correspondent to the back of her tent and showed off a whole box of the popular, normally seen t-shirts. As we were negotiating prices - she wanted 360 yuan, or roughly $60, an outrageous starting price - other merchants came by, and in Chinese, told her to be careful. The merchant became visibly rattled and put the t-shirts away.
Another reporter in the pool had a similar experience with a separate vender, but managed to snap a photo of one of the t-shirts. I would be glad to share with anyone who wants to investigate why Chinese authorities made sure, for a day, that Mutianyu was visibly free of Obama-Mao t-shirts.
From a tipster, we've got an image of the shirt: