China's president visits Beijing alley despite smog, sits with residents, sparking online buzz

Chinese President Xi Jinping has made an unannounced visit to a trendy alley in central Beijing despite the hazardous smog that has enveloped the city for several days.

Photos of Xi's visit Tuesday morning to Nanluoguxiang, a traditional alleyway popular with tourists and fashionable youth, circulated on Chinese social media sites.

Xi wore a black jacket and pants and was followed by a posse of similarly plainly suited Beijing city officials.

Guan Shiyue, a resident who lives in a small home on a nearby alley, says Xi visited him and sat between him and his wife on their living room sofa.

Such visits are extremely rare — if not unheard of — for top Chinese leaders, who are not known for mingling with the public other than at scheduled events.