Just Say 'Eh,' Chinese Advised

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If his Chinese counterparts chatter manically at President Clinton while keeping a 20-inch distance, it may be simply because they've taken the advice of a Chinese online guide to dealing with Americans established by the China Internet Corp. for the historic visit. "When one colleague meets another, they often just yell out their name," it advises. "It is not necessary to shake hands -- usually they just smile and say 'Hey,' 'Eh,' or 'Hi.'" (It seems a little Canadian slipped in there.) While the President might be tempted to relax his dress code on the advice that "whether in town or in the country, most Americans wear whatever clothes they want," he may feel a little pressured by the observation that "Southerners and Midwesterners are neater than people from the East and West coasts."

Only Americans fluent in Mandarin will get the benefit of these cultural insights into their culture -- they're not carried on the site's English-language section, although the latter does offer valuable insights into the character of Chinese leaders. But those concerned about human rights, of course, are unlikely to take much comfort in the news that Li Peng, the hard-liner who ordered the Tiananmen Square crackdown, "is a good helper and often does some housework."