In Brief

PUBLISHED : Friday, 14 December, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 14 December, 2007, 12:00am

Close-up lesson in the art of faking it

Strategic economic dialogues are serious affairs, so it was heartening to see the organisers of this week's talks having a laugh. Holding the event at the Grand Epoch City - an ersatz take on Ming Dynasty Beijing, complete with temples, winding hutongs, pondside pavilions and encircled by a turreted wall with faux-ancient city gates - was a masterstroke. One of the hot topics on the negotiating table was the theft of intellectual property and counterfeiting of manufactured goods - so holding the talks in a manufactured, counterfeit city felt entirely appropriate. For any US officials who had missed the irony, they could have bought it at the conference hall gift shop. Yes, pirated American goods - wallets, shirts and handbags - all conveniently on sale at a snip of the original price. Tom Miller

Icy relations make way for the real thing

Despite the smiling and shows of Sino-American camaraderie, cultural misunderstandings remained a problem for both sides. Henry Paulson did his best to show how far the dialogue had come since the formality of last year. 'Now I can sit in discussions with a diet Coke ... instead of drinking tea,' he told reporters, proving how stiff protocol had gone out of the window. But a mainland vice-minister was more honest: 'I don't think each side understands the other very well. You can understand the words coming out of their mouths, but it's hard to figure out the meaning behind them,' he said. Congratulating Madame Wu Yi on her work as Beijing's lead negotiator, Mr Paulson again attempted to show how far relations had come. Bending down, apparently to embrace his diminutive counterpart, he paused and stopped. Perhaps such an intimate gesture would be pushing it. Tom Miller and Al Guo

Wu Yi pulls the 'lady' card

Tough-talking Vice-Premier Wu Yi did not lose her sense of humour. She started Wednesday's talk by saying: 'So who should go first?' And after some polite nudging, she said light-heartedly in English '[In which case], ladies first', drawing soft laughter from both delegations. Ng Tze-wei