Jiang: All the Right Noises

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HONOLULU: Prepare for Jiang fever. The Chinese President arrived in Hawaii Sunday, and so far he seems to be pushing all the right buttons. His visit to the Arizona memorial reminded everyone of U.S.-China cooperation during World War II — the watery wreath played well for the cameras, while his hula session showed off what troupe teacher Hokulani DeRego called Jiang's "great rhythm."

Add to that a visit to the colonial capital of Williamsburg Va. late Monday — during which every TV correspondent can allude to the Jefferson-quoting Chinese President "seeing where democracy began" — and the stage is set for the biggest PR coup since Deng Xiaoping donned a ten-gallon hat back in 1979.

Even the human rights protests have been assimilated — officially endorsed by Madeleine Albright Sunday, they will be allowed (and contained) at various points along Jiang's route, coexisting happily with the entire visit. Politicians on both sides seem to agree this is a Good Thing.

All of which is leading the Clinton administration to make enthusiastic noises about an early visit to China as soon as 1998. Of course there’s still that $44 billion trade surplus, the status of Taiwan and Richard Gere to deal with. But substantive issues aside, thus far in what TIME State Department correspondent Dean Fischer calls "the biggest challenge facing the U.S. for the foreseeable future," everything's coming up roses.