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British GQ returned China's President Xi to its 'worst-dressed' list after removing him over concerns that it might cause offence

James de Villiers , Business Insider US
 Dec 25, 2019, 12:09 PM
Xi Jinping, Mao Zedong, GQ, Buzzfeed
Composite image of former Chairman of the People's Republic of China, Mao Zedon (Photo by Apic/Getty Images) and current Chinese president, Xi Jinping (Photo by Noel Celis - Pool/Getty Images)
  • The British GQ returned Chinese president Xi Jinping and Thailand's King Maha Vajiralongkorn to it's "worst-dressed" list.
  • BuzzFeed News first reported that the magazine removed the world leaders out of fear that their inclusion might cause offence.
  • GQ said it was a mistake to remove them and hoped readers will see the list as "humourous in the market it was created for".
  • For more stories go to

The British edition of GQ returned China's President Xi Jinping and Thailand's King Maha Vajiralongkorn to its list of the world's worst-dressed people in 2019, after removing them out of fear of causing offense.

BuzzFeed News first reported that the entries for Vajiralongkorn and Jinping - whose fashion sense GQ compared to "the mass murderer Chairman Mao" - were removed from the magazine's website shortly after the list was published. (Both remained in the print edition of the magazine.)

In a statement published Monday, the magazine said it first removed reference to the world leaders in the "irreverent list" as it was concerned that it might be "offensive outside of the UK market."

"On reflection, this was an error and the references have been restored," the statement reads. "We hope readers in other countries will see the text as it was intended - to be humourous in the market it was created for."

The GQ's annual worst-dress list, with highly critical descriptions, was published alongside GQ's best-dressed list last week on Wednesday. It includes people like Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg and Goldman Sachs CEO-slash-DJ David Solomon.

"It is not Hong Kong's courageous freedom fighters that Xi Jinping should have a problem with. It's his tailor," GQ wrote of Xi. "Xi gets totalitarian style cues from his hero, the mass murderer Chairman Mao, who enforced a dour and plain dress code for the Communist Party."

During the regime of Mao Zedong, the founder of China's ruling Communist Party, an estimated 80 million people died.

Vajiralongkorn, the 67-year-old king of Thailand since 2016, was criticised for dressing like a hipster.

"How many others living deities do you know with a penchant for really tight crop tops, hipster jeans and fake tattoos?" the magazine wrote. "The answer is none. And that's because no others exist."

China highly regulates its media to limit critical coverage of the state. The country frequently jails dissident writers and activists and sometimes blacks out critical publications.

The pressure can sometimes reach other countries. Apple removed an application from its app store that allowed Hong Kong protesters to track police movements as activists seek more political autonomy from the Chinese government. And the NBA has dealt with infighting as basketball becomes increasingly popular in China, but some managers and players have announced solidarity with the protesters.

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