Wen Jiabao

Lai See

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 02 June, 2010, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 02 June, 2010, 12:00am


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Premier huffs and puffs but Hello Kitty saves the day

The 'people's premier' Wen Jiabao, affectionately known as Grandpa Wen, is renowned for his habit of morning exercises, especially when he travels overseas.

During his just-completed three-day visit to Japan, Wen sought every opportunity to seduce the host country with China's soft-power diplomacy.

Wen was seen jogging in Tokyo's Yoyogi Park with bodyguards and reporters in tow, then practising tai chi and chatting with local and foreign residents.

After his 'tai chi diplomacy', he quickly turned to 'baseball diplomacy', playing catch and practising batting with some university students. The premier practically went out of his way to win the hearts of the Japanese people.

But behind the sugar-coated diplomatic niceties is centuries of animosity between the two Asian giants.

Their rivalry may soon be heating up again as the mainland is expected to overtake Japan as the world's No 2 economy this year, while they continue to compete for resources in the East China Sea.

Their relationship has often been likened to that of the 'teeth and lips' because when the lips are gone, the teeth will be cold.

We can imagine how desperate Wen must have felt when he pleaded for Tokyo to move forward in bilateral relations by churning out the old saying that 'a stronger Chinese economy will benefit Japan'.

Then, when nothing seemed to work to soothe diplomatic strains, an unlikely saviour emerged. Someone pulled out a kimono-clad Hello Kitty doll and gave it to the premier after both sides agreed to promote grass-roots cultural exchange in the near future.

The minuscule plush doll is designed by Japan, but not surprisingly, it's made in China.

Say no more. Hello Kitty saves the day!

No small beer

We hear the current investment advice during this crazy World Cup month is to drink heavily and invest heavily in frothy beer stocks.

With the World Cup ready to kick off in less than two weeks in South Africa, many have become more willing to tap a few beer stocks as worldwide consumption is expected to rise dramatically during the four-week tournament.

Some speculate that Brazilian beer stocks might win big as soccer-mad Brazilians are likely to up their consumption of beer as they watch their national team compete for top spot in this highly popular global sports competition.

German beer stocks are also in line to benefit as most people, football fans or not, love German beer.

Beer consumption in Germany may have fallen in recent years, but Germans are still some of the world's biggest beer drinkers. A hot summer coupled with some World Cup soccer victories are expected to boost sales tremendously.

In the early 1990s when Germany's national beer sales hit record highs after reunification, annual per capita consumption went up to 171.3 litres.

Despite the drop in consumption, Germany still has 1,300 breweries employing 30,000 people who produce 5,000 different types of beer.

And when it comes to beer, Germans who are over 15 years of age still out-drink most of their European counterparts by far, averaging 121.4 litres last year.

Meanwhile, the Brits are said to drink over 30 pints of the amber nectar every second.

Let's hope there won't be any beer shortages during the World Cup because some brewers, including a few in South Africa, have warned they might be unable to meet surging demand despite having sharply increased production.

Whatever, beverage investors are sure to score.

One for the boys

Talking of cashing in on World Cup fever, Calvin Klein has come up with an exclusive line of World Cup-themed underwear. Surprise, surprise!

We are not sure whether men who love the tournament or just football in general will also love to dress this sharply underneath.

The cotton boxer shorts, which feature England, Brazil and Spain colours, all have the signature CK stretchy waistband, and a little flag on the side. They come in packs of two, priced at around HK$220.

A salesperson at a CK boutique at the Elements shopping centre in Kowloon assured us: 'The World Cup is very important to many boys out there, so they will definitely like these specially designed colourful boxers.'

Yes, well, boys will be boys.