captDa Bidze (BEE dzuh) is one term the Chinese use to refer to Westerners. It means Big Nose. Not only do the Chinese have smaller noses but they have bigger faces. As a society, they are very careful not to embarrass each other. Maintaining and giving Big Face is an important part of how they handle all their relationships.

Bush started losing face with the Chinese with his preceding visits to Japan and South Korea, long a thorn in China’s side. In Kyoto, he criticized the Chinese president, saying, “As China reforms its economy, its leaders are finding that once the door to freedom is opened even a crack, it cannot be closed. As the people of China grow in prosperity, their demands for political freedom will grow as well. President Hu has explained to me his vision of “peaceful development,” and he wants his people to be more prosperous. I have pointed out that the people of China want more freedom to express themselves to worship without state control and to print Bibles and other sacred texts without fear of punishment. The efforts of China’s people to improve their society should be welcomed as part of China’s development. By meeting the legitimate demands of its citizens for freedom and openness, China’s leaders can help their country grow into a modern, prosperous, and confident nation. “

Were the Chinese miffed? Not so you’d notice. When Bush arrived in China, the first thing his gracious hosts did was announce their plan to purchase 70 Boeing 737 passenger jets. So what does he do next? He rubs their noses in his version of religious freedom by attending services at one of five officially recognized Protestant churches in Beijing. As Mike Green, Bush’s special assistant for National Security Affairs, explained: “It’s Sunday, so the president will want to worship. But it’s also important that the world see and that the Chinese people see that expression of faith is a good thing for a healthy and mature society.”

So, he stood on Japanese and South Korean soil and made the Chinese look bad, then he arrived and they gave him a nice gift and then he insults them again. As per usual, it is unclear whether George W Bush is incredibly ignorant or incredibly smart. If he intended to insult the Chinese, then he is being crafty. Otherwise, he is acting like a typical blundering foreigner and he will likely be unaware of the laughter and revenge going on behind his back.

By Camille Armantrout

Camille lives with her soul mate Bob in the back woods of central North Carolina where she hikes, gardens, cooks, and writes.