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There I sat at a round table in Beijing’s Great Wall Hotel dining room some 21 years ago, with a vice chairman of the People’s Insurance Company of China on one side and an attractive young lady, who was AIG’s Beijing Branch Manager, on the other, trying to eat an abalone with chopsticks. My wife sat scowling at her own gastronomic delights, while I wondered just how foolish we looked to these sophisticated people (to whom I was just another bumbling American businessman, traveling with his wife).

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