When Deng Xiaoping arrived at Andrews Air Force Base outside Washington in January 1979, his country was just emerging from a long revolutionary deep freeze. No one knew much about this five-foot-tall Chinese leader. He had suddenly reappeared on the scene after twice being cashiered by Mao, who famously described him as “a needle inside a ball of cotton.” But in 1979 he knew exactly what he wanted: better relations with the US. He and President Jimmy Carter appeared to be serious about resolving differences. While reporting on these meetings, I had the impression that they were aware they were appearing in a kind of buddy film, and were using the opportunity to suggest clearly that they were ready to cooperate.