We Realize You Have a Choice of Carriers, Mr. Hu

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By Jorge and Paola Guajardo

If there is an image from Hu Jintao's U.S. visit that spoke to me more than any other, it's this one:

Hu arrival.jpg

At a time when China is making a lot of Americans nervous, what could be less threatening than its leader arriving in a Boeing-747, made in Seattle and bearing the Star Alliance logo?  In the bad old days of U.S.-Soviet summits, it was a zero-sum game, and imagery was everything.  Soviet premiers arrived in a Tupolev plane and were whisked away in Russian-made Zil limousines.  It was the era of the kitchen debate, as each side tried to show the other that its people, its ways and its products were superior.  Fast forward to President Hu on his jumbo jet.  It appears that, in this case, the aircraft is the message.

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James Fallows is a national correspondent for The Atlantic and has written for the magazine since the late 1970s. He has reported extensively from outside the United States and once worked as President Carter's chief speechwriter. His latest book is China Airborne. More

James Fallows is based in Washington as a national correspondent for The Atlantic. He has worked for the magazine for nearly 30 years and in that time has also lived in Seattle, Berkeley, Austin, Tokyo, Kuala Lumpur, Shanghai, and Beijing. He was raised in Redlands, California, received his undergraduate degree in American history and literature from Harvard, and received a graduate degree in economics from Oxford as a Rhodes scholar. In addition to working for The Atlantic, he has spent two years as chief White House speechwriter for Jimmy Carter, two years as the editor of US News & World Report, and six months as a program designer at Microsoft. He is an instrument-rated private pilot. He is also now the chair in U.S. media at the U.S. Studies Centre at the University of Sydney, in Australia.

Fallows has been a finalist for the National Magazine Award five times and has won once; he has also won the American Book Award for nonfiction and a N.Y. Emmy award for the documentary series Doing Business in China. He was the founding chairman of the New America Foundation. His recent books Blind Into Baghdad (2006) and Postcards From Tomorrow Square (2009) are based on his writings for The Atlantic. His latest book is China Airborne. He is married to Deborah Fallows, author of the recent book Dreaming in Chinese. They have two married sons.

Fallows welcomes and frequently quotes from reader mail sent via the "Email" button below. Unless you specify otherwise, we consider any incoming mail available for possible quotation -- but not with the sender's real name unless you explicitly state that it may be used. If you are wondering why Fallows does not use a "Comments" field below his posts, please see previous explanations here and here.
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