Down to Business in Shanghai

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Why is Bill Clinton in China? It's the economy, stupid. The President got down to the business of showcasing China's economic potential Tuesday in the powerhouse city of Shanghai -- the white-hot engine of that nation's furious economic growth. At a roundtable with local business and civic leaders, and later on -- of all things -- a talk-radio show, he heaped praise on China for resisting the pressure to devalue its currency and emphasized the cooperation between the two countries over the Asian financial crisis as a model of partnership. He spoke of "a new China emerging in the world that is more prosperous, more open and more dynamic" -- a place that's hugely attractive to American business.

The President couldn't have picked a better city to showcase a China changing at almost breakneck speed: The spectacle of a U.S. president chatting with callers on a radio show in Communist-ruled China about ways of getting Japan's stagnant economy restarted seems almost outlandish. Even more so, perhaps -- the Prez was asked about one of his areas of expertise: fast food. A local leader at the morning roundtable bemoaned the passion for McDonald's and KFC among China's children, wondering if it might lead to problems of obesity.