THE NATIONS: Between Friends

A black Buick sedan drew up before Britain's Foreign Office in Whitehall. Out stepped Dr. Cheng Tien-hsi, Nationalist China's urbane and scholarly ambassador, summoned to hear a judgment from His Britannic Majesty's Government.

With Confucian calm, the elderly (65) ambassador entered the high-ceilinged office of youthful (39) Minister of State Hector McNeil. The Briton fingered his necktie in awkward embarrassment, choked up as he began to read a formal note announcing Britain's recognition of Communist China (see below) and the dismissal of the Nationalist Chinese envoy. Cheng interrupted with a gentle gesture of gnarled ivory-hued hands. "We can talk of business...

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