Hu Jintao, the leader of China, began his four-day trip to the United States by doing something that made him feel right at home. Landing in Seattle, he was driven immediately to a Footlocker, where he purchased a pair of Nike sneakers. He proudly held them up to the camera, displaying the label on the inside of the tongue that heralded, “Made in China.”
“This is what fair trade is all about,” he said. “You give us things to make, and we make them.”
His next stop was at the tastefully restrained $100-million home of Bill Gates, where he gave an affable dinner talk. There was no discussion of whether he would allow equal time for a visit to Steve Jobs.
His trip includes the inevitable meeting with President Bush, where they’ll discuss all of the topics they’re bound to agree to disagree about, such as the touchy subject of human rights and whether or not Taiwan can somehow be re-stitched to mainland China, how to divvy up the world supply of oil so both economies can keep chugging along on the black gold of the Middle East, if China might join us in restraining the nuclear ambitions of scandalously belligerent Iran, and if China might value its currency appropriately before our trade deficit with them turns our own pockets completely inside out.
While we may quibble with the lack of progress the two are likely to make, just seeing the gentleman here, smiling and dressed in an accommodating suit and tie gives us some cause for hope that amity and progress between the two nations will increase, especially those of us who remember Mao and his monstrously debilitating ways, toward the finest potential of his own people and toward our own now much maligned but persistently well-intentioned nation.