China's President Applauded for Walking Street Without Air Mask

Chinese President Xi Jinping, center, is surrounded by onlookers during an unannounced visit to a residential alley in Beijing, Feb. 25, 2014. AP Photo

China's President Xi Jinping made a rare public appearance on a popular Beijing street today, which is Day 6 of air so hazardous the city has been placed under a "pollution alert."

Social media is lighting up with the news Xi strolled down Nanluoguxiang, known for selling "stinky tofu," and most of the commentary positive:

"Breathing together, sharing the same fate," read one post on Weibo, China's Twitter.

Nanluoguxiang is packed with hip cafes and bars frequented by Beijing youth and tourists. Xi allowed several photos to be taken as he visited two homes, inquiring about living conditions.

Breathing bad air, without a mask, won Xi an enormous amount of praise online. "Right on! Big Xi didn't wear a face mask!" wrote one blogger according to the South China Morning Post.

Chen Heng, owner of Chen's Small Intestine Restaurant, posted a complaint that police were checking the area "like mad dogs" in the days leading up to the visit.