Observer - Asia

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Chinese in Crawford

Will Hu Jintao, Chinese president, be visiting Crawford? Observer’s White House mole says Hu’s planned trip to the US in September helps to explain the timing of China’s announcement last week that it would break the renminbi’s peg to the dollar.

Not only might it have been embarrassing for Hu if the agenda had been dominated by the currency, but the US had also stalled on the details of the schedule for the visit – including whether there would be full state visit treatment – while waiting to see if China would act on the currency issue.

The Treasury made clear there would be a much warmer welcome in September if China moved on its currency first, with Bill Rhodes, Citigroup’s senior vice-chairman, helping to communicate the delicate message.

With China announcing last week that it would allow the renminbi to rise 2 per cent – with more to follow, as and when Beijing sees fit – preparations for Hu’s visit have begun in earnest.

The initial announcement was enough to get Charles Schumer, the senator, and his legislation to impose tariffs on Chinese imports off the administration’s back.

Will it be enough to win Hu the ultimate accolade, a barbecue at President George W. Bush’s Texas ranch?

Unsporting gesture

Sport is meant to unite. So Maurice de Rohan, South Australia’s agent in London and a committee member of the Marylebone Cricket Club, took advantage of the test match between Australia and England at the MCC’s Lord’s ground to send contacts a little present as well as a plug for his state’s wine and tourist attractions.

“It is some time since the two great cricket nations have been so evenly poised for an Ashes series,” de Rohan wrote. “I hope the enclosed booklet, Bradman insights at Lord’s, may help you to get in the mood for the coming encounters.”

His parcel, however, arrived only on Monday morning, after England had been humiliated yet again. By then, a thoughtful gesture could well have been seen by England supporters as untimely gloating.

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