Embraceable Zhu

  • Share
  • Read Later
WASHINGTON: Ordinarily, Zhu Rongji would be striding into a hailstorm when he arrives in the U.S. Tuesday to press for Beijing's membership in the WTO. Anti-China sentiment in Congress, thanks to crackdowns on dissidents, fishy campaign contributions and that whole stolen-missile-secrets thing, is at fever pitch. Not to mention that the engagement-minded Clinton administration lacks needed credibility on foreign-policy issues right now.

Luckily for the Chinese economic czar (think Alan Greenspan with Al Gore's title), not only is there a war going on, but Congress is on vacation for most of his eight-day visit. TIME U.N. correspondent William Dowell thinks that with Kosovo dominating the airwaves, Zhu may be able to get under the radar and lay the groundwork for a deal. "Zhu is a capitalist reformer, a very pragmatic guy who speaks the language of free trade that the West wants to hear," he says. "With Congress on recess, he'll be able to seek out the members that he needs to convince, and try to assuage their doubts." The rest will just have to fight for face time with those fireballs in Belgrade.