US Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner has "previous" when it comes to China. We refer, of course, to his branding Beijing a currency manipulator in January, not to his stint at Peking University in 1981, a good few years before foreign students came to the capital with the express purpose of drinking it dry (although we may be underestimating both the commitment of some present-day students and the resourcefulness of their predecessors). Speaking at his alma mater yesterday, though, Geithner was the model of good behavior. Greater exchange rate flexibility? It’s good for US trade and good for China’s long-term policy of boosting domestic demand, he said. America’s mounting fiscal deficit and China’s concerns about the impact of this on its US dollar holdings? Don’t worry, we acknowledge your worries and will reduce the deficit once the economy peps up, he explained. The global economic crisis? A sustained recovery depends on cooperation between the US and China and a commitment to the G20 pledge "to not resort to protectionist measures by raising trade and investment barriers…" Ah, there really is no accounting for the politics of trade. For that same day, China’s Ministry of Commerce said it had opened an anti-dumping investigation into US and Russian steel imports following a complaint by two domestic firms. Yes, it is tit-for-tat (US steelmakers brought an anti-dumping action against their Chinese counterparts in April) and, yes, it is in all likelihood timed to coincide with Geithner’s visit. Leverage, it appears, is the name of the game.