Beijing, here I come

I’m really rushed this week. This weekend, I’m leaving for a quick trip to China, to take part in a UN conference on Palestine that’s being held there.
I’ve never been to China before, so it’s really exciting. They only invited me ten days or so ago, and what with Christmas coming up it’s all a bit rushed.
It’ll be an interesting time to be there, though. I’ve been reading a lot of news articles recently saying that the new Chinese leaders have been doing really well at expanding their country’s friendships all around Asia– that, at a time that many Asian countries have become incresingly irritated with Prez Bush’s johnny-one-note focus on the “war against terror”.
Plus, this week Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao was in DC, where he succeeded in winning a public statement from the Prez to the effect that he would not support Taiwan’s leaders in any attempt to change the delicate status quo with China.
That’s a big change from April 2001, when Bush uttered some fairly bellicose threats against China in the wake of the incident in which the Chinese brought down in their southern Hainan province a big US spy-plane with all its instrumentation, etc. (Much of which they were apparently able to check out carefully before they returned it.)
The conference I’m speaking at is a UN Asian Meeting on Palestine. I think there should be people from many Asian countries there, in addition to our hosts from the Chinese MFA. So I’ll be really interested to hear what ALL those people have to say about the situation in Israel/Palestine, and in the Middle East more broadly.
Before I leave, though, I’m helping some friends from the Charlottesville Center for Peace and Justice to organize some pro-peace public activities here in town tomorrow. I hope I get time to post a quick report here on how it goes. Hey, maybe even pictures?
Today, Bill and I wrestled our 2003 Christmas/holiday cards into place– all put in envelopes, stamped, and ready for the mailman. I don’t think we’ve ever managed to get them organized so early before! I’ll be back in the US for Christmas, which we’re spending with Bill’s 97-year-old mother in northern California…