Before I left China, the chief of consular affairs for Liaoning Province, Mr. Zhao Hongbin, took us all out to dinner to say goodbye. Mr. Zhao, of course, famously 能喝酒, so he started the dinner with water glasses full to the brim with 白酒， which is 80-120 proof or 40-60% alcohol. Vodka, by contrast, is only 35-50%. Making good local government contacts in northeastern China requires eating lots of sea cucumbers and drinking lots of baijiu. Beth and I obviously can drink them under the table, so they love going out with us. This time, Beth tried to claim that she had a toothache (true) and I claimed pregnany (false). Mr. Zhao claimed drinking would help solve both problems.
Me with the translator Raymond, who is the only 东北外办who watches more TMZ than I: