Could it have been the crackdown no one expected?
A pool reporter at the Great Wall of China for Michelle Obama's visit there Sunday said "Chinese authorities made sure, for a day, that Mutianyu [a section of the Great Wall] was visibly free of Obama-Mao t-shirts."
The merchant apparently wasn't completely against the idea of some serious capitalism, however, as she seems to have told the pool reporter that she'd sell him one of the T-shirts for a cool $60, according to The Weekly Standard.
Here's the relevant — and quite funny — portion of the pool report:
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.
The Obama-Mao T-shirts aren't a particularly new phenomenon.
Here's a rather humorous Reuters report via YouTube from several years ago that profiled a shop with a line of Obama-Mao products, including T-shirts:
(H/T: Weasel Zippers)