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Macron wins Chinese fans with Mandarin lesson

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    Agence France-Presse

Beijing, China | Tue, January 9, 2018 | 09:28 pm
 Macron wins Chinese fans with Mandarin lesson French President Emmanuel Macron (left) and Chinese President Xi Jinping shake hands after a joint press briefing at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on Jan. 9, 2018. (Agence France -Presse/Mark Schiefelbein/Pool)

A behind-the-scenes video of French President Emmanuel Macron wrestling with the Mandarin pronunciation of his climate change slogan "Make our planet great again" has delighted Chinese social media.

The candid footage shows Macron sneezing and wondering when to breathe as he diligently repeats the phrase after his instructor, while a woman touches up his make-up and two bemused men in military garb look on.

Macron was able to show off his new skills in a keynote speech on the future of Sino-French relations during a stop Monday in the northern city of Xian, the starting point of the ancient Silk Road.

But it was the video of him learning the Chinese version of the expression -- a tongue-in-cheek jab at US President Donald Trump's "Make America Great" campaign slogan -- that endeared him to Chinese social media users.

"Rang," Macron says in the clip that was posted on Twitter late Monday.

"It's like 'Jean', then," he says, referring to a French first name that sounds like the pronunciation of the Chinese word "rang".

Determined to properly execute Mandarin's notoriously difficult tones, the president asks: "So where am I supposed to breathe?"

Enunciating the phrase, he says, "rang diqiu zaici weida" -- Make the planet great again. 

Macron, who speaks fluent English, was applauded for his efforts on China's Twitter-like Weibo platform Tuesday.

"President Macron's really giving it his all," one commenter said. "In order to spread his environmental philosophy in China, he even learned how to say 'make Planet Great Again' in Chinese hahahaha."

Another user wrote that Macron's use of the phrase in Chinese showed his "steadfast resolve" to spread his environmental message.

Macron visited the Forbidden City Tuesday and will hold more talks with President Xi Jinping following their initial meeting on Monday night.

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