All heads of state like to brag about themselves and about their countries, especially to other heads of state. It's not that we're all self-involved, immature and insensitive, it's just that it becomes a sort of compulsive thing once you take office. I said I wasn't going to do it myself but the very first time I met with another world leader it was like my instincts went into overdrive. I couldn't help but tout some new military vehicle I had honestly only heard about the day before. That didn't matter, though. As far as I was concerned in that moment, the vehicle was a symbol of American military prowess and a sign of the forward-thinking ingenuity my tenure in office would embody. God, I felt like an ass afterward. The damn thing was just an armored meal truck that kept hot foods hot and cold foods cold while being 5% more fuel efficient than the previous model of meal truck. That's not what Sarkozy heard, though. Hu Jiantao of China is the worst about that kind of stuff. Guy shoots his mouth off with almost no prompting at all. This week has been hell as a result.
For instance, he was all like, "You've been the President, a Junior Senator, and a, ahem, community organizer, whatever that is. Curious, this American system. Before I became the Paramount Leader, which is really the proper title, I was the General Secretary of the Communist Party of China, Chairman of the Central Military Commission and, yes, like you, President of my nation."
What a shameless braggart.
Whenever I started talking about economic issues, throwing around numbers about however many millions of people are still in need of work, what percentage of them require health coverage, how many of them are working to support families versus how many are kids straight out of college, Hu would just go off about how "the numbers in America are so quaint". Yeah, he trotted out that 1.3 billion in population figure plenty of times. Ya know, like it's something to be proud of that your country has so many people that you have to implement procreation limitation laws. Ah, but I couldn't say that, could I? I have to be Mr. Diplomat, the guy who does his best to rebuild America's image around the world. I couldn't tell the Chinese guy that his country isn't so perfect. I'm pretty sure by that point Bush would have started making incessant General Tso jokes. Guy had no self-control, none at all.
Hu is also quick to point out how the Yuan has been rising in value against the dollar for six years now. 20% growth in six years, to be specific. Yeah, he never forgot to drop that little figure in every single economic discussion we had. He was even so uncouth as to talk about the PRC's $2.4 trillion in Forex reserves. Seriously, who talks about how much money they have in polite conversation? Oh, but bring up human rights issues in the Chinese industrial workplace and Hu gets real quiet. Yeah, he's a freaking church mouse when you start talking labor reform.
Never mind that China's unemployment rate is as bad, or worse, than ours despite the fact that they're technically in an up economy. Never mind that it has taken more than half a century to make 93% of their population literate. Never mind that the PRC's coal plants, which make up 70% of their energy concern, are producing so much pollution that it's actually affecting wine production in California. No, Hu Jintao doesn't like to talk about those things. He just likes to brag.