President Clinton and his wife, Hillary Rodham, traded ideas with six selected Chinese yesterday as they sat in the courtyard of Xiahe, a village which has grown rich from the Terracotta Warrior tourist trade. Mr Clinton, dressed in short-sleeves and open collar, praised the village's democracy. 'Many Americans are very interested in the fact that over half-a-million Chinese villages now have local elections, including this one,' he said. When the Clintons were feted at the village school, the President said he knew that 500,000 other villages like Xiahe would soon be choosing their leaders. 'I know what it's like to run for office,' he said. 'I have won elections and I have lost two. But whenever there is an election and the people decide, everyone wins.' Mr Clinton told villagers how important it was that leaders in both the United States and China understood how people lived at the grassroots level and how policies they made affected people's lives. 'That's the purpose of leadership - to try to make a positive difference in the lives of ordinary citizens.' Restaurant owner Xie Liming said a president who was interested in people's lives 'must be a president who is supported by his people'. None of the six Chinese - who included an electronics student, a doctor and a teacher - mentioned the village elections. Instead, they talked of issues dear to the US presidential couple such as medical care, community care of the elderly, education and the environment. The President showered praise on the individual enterprise, family and community values which had made Xiahe so prosperous.