The burden of expatriation, part 1,547

You probably know the white man in this photo below, shown with Hu Jintao on a recent front page of the China Daily:
You probably don't know this white man (recent picture of me in China):

OK, yes, they're both middle-aged white men looking somewhat the worse for life's wear. And believe me, I have fished around for the most similar-looking poses and expressions and hair styles etc I could find, minus the accompanying Chinese dignitary. Still, despite these powerful similarities, the fact is that not once in my life has someone in the United States or Europe stopped me on the street to say, or mentioned in a conversation,  "Oh, you look just like George W. Bush."

Rarely has a day passed in China without a Chinese person saying this.

I think this reflects the same principle by which any middle-aged, non-glasses-wearing Chinese man might be told in America, "You know, you look just like Jackie Chan,"  or a middle-aged black man might be asked, "Are you Sidney Poitier?" (Samuel L. Jackson, Forest Whitaker, Dennis Haysbert, Laurence Fishburne, etc). We all look the same....

It could be worse. They could be asking if I was Karl Rove. Or Cheney.