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NOVEMBER 29, 1999 VOL. 154 NO. 21

Advice for Jiang from the Image Doctors: Look the Part

Cover: The Son of Heaven?
A plum trade deal wins Jiang Zemin accolades, but it's probably not enough to elevate him to the ranks of China's immortals, Mao and Deng

Advice for Jiang from the Image Doctors: Look the Part
Those who recognize Jiang--those owlish glasses are, for better or worse, a defining characteristic--see him as bland and uninteresting

Anatomy of a WTO Deal
Bluffs and brinksmanship kept both sides guessing until the U.S. and China finally signed the trade pact

China's WTO Deal May Leave Hong Kong Out in the Cold
The People's Republic's likely accession into the World Trade Organization may make Hong Kong's lucrative role obsolete

ONLINE EXCLUSIVE: Barshefsky: 'It is political legitimacy'
TIME speaks with Charlene Barshefsky, U.S. Trade Representative, in this online-only, extended interview

Line of Fire: Hot Air at Harvard
Even in academia, no one is telling China what it needs to hear

Jiang Zemin's Big Bash
The Mao-suited President stages a huge, highly choreographed show to celebrate the People's Republic's 50th anniversary

China's Amazing Half Century
Navigate through the People's Republic of China and discover the 50 places where history was made

50 years of the People's Republic
presented by CNN, TIME, Asiaweek and Fortune

China's 50th Anniversary
Jiang Zemin's coming-out parade [an interactive photo essay]

Chinese president Jiang Zemin can recite the Gettysburg Address from memory, play a mean erhu and speak a fair bit of Romanian. If he could manage all three feats simultaneously, he might qualify for a guest spot on an American late-night TV show. And that, at least, could be a start at solving one of Jiang's more pressing problems: few people outside of China know much about him. And even those who recognize him--those owlish glasses are, for better or worse, a defining characteristic--see him as bland and uninteresting.

For a man who aspires to be a world statesman, this is surely unacceptable. So we asked political consultants in Washington and Hong Kong how they would burnish the Chinese President's image. Here are some of their suggestions:

NO MORE SILLY HATS Jiang's mentor Deng Xiaoping looked cute and cuddly when famously photographed in a Stetson, but Jiang appeared foolish when he tried on a three-cornered American colonial hat. "Bad hats make even good politicians look like clowns," says Paul Begala, who until recently looked after U.S. President Bill Clinton's image.

GET A NEW TAILOR Preferably Italian. Jiang's baggy suits say "Ministry of Metallurgical Industry." China is now about business, so suits must be solid grays or blue pin-stripes--please, no browns. Leave the thick rubber-soled shoes on the farm and order footwear from London.

WRITE A BOOK Good clothes help sharpen a politician's image, but fresh ideas really gain attention. An expert ghost writer can gloss over Jiang's hard-line political views and dwell on his ideas for turning drab collective farms into cheerful mom-and-pop plots. "There's a great hunger for books about China, and if Jiang can explain his vision, people will take notice," says Mike Deaver, a former adviser to President Ronald Reagan.

VISIT A SALON Is it possible Jiang's been donning funny local hats to try to cover up his oil-slicked 'do? Pulling out a comb to touch up the stray hairs, as Jiang did during an official welcoming by King Juan Carlos of Spain, doesn't help promote a statesmanlike image. Someone should tell the President that grooming belongs backstage.

LOSE THE GLASSES Yes, they are Jiang's signature piece, but the oversized, fashion-challenged spectacles aren't winning him much respect. "It looks like he woke up in the morning and picked up his wife's by mistake" says Giles Blanchard, a brand-development consultant in Hong Kong. On the other hand, Jiang seems to manage ruling 1.3 billion people pretty well, glasses, funny hats and all.

With reporting by Hannah Beech/Hong Kong

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