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U.S. Products, Trade Deficit

December 12, 1987

I have just returned from a five-week business journey to China, spending a large portion of the time in Beijing. While there I had occasion to walk amid the snow along the embassy district. Most of the diplomats were served by Mercedes 300 series staff cars since China is not noted for its production of a luxury automobile.

I felt quite amused thinking of the Bulgarian and Russian ambassadors' feelings toward capitalistic creature comforts when I strolled by the U.S. compound. There, to my chagrin, was parked the American fleet of the self-same 300s.

In a time of staggering national debt, horrendous balance of payments figures and slumping domestic luxury car sales, the least our consular corps could do would be to invest good old Yankee dollars in something sensible like Lincolns or Cadillacs. One could even make a case for the upper-crust products of the Chrysler Corp., but they would probably last too long.

BILL HAFNER

West Los Angeles

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