Chinese military machismo took a great leap forward this week, as news broke that the country had completed its first plane takeoff and landing on its newly launched Soviet-built aircraft carrier (sure, it’s second-hand, but austerity is in right now). The flight came just days after the Philippines and Vietnam expressed their outrage at a new Chinese passport including a map with disputed territories in the South China Sea. The US State Department also voiced its concern over the issue, calling the map “not helpful” in its best authority figure voice. (The comments were viewed as hypocritical by some, given that a recent US passport features a picture of SPACE.) Experts fear that China’s borders could keep gradually inching outward whenever we turn around or have to shut our eyes while sneezing. Adding to concerns, a recent study showed that Chinese are everywhere – floating at the bottom of the sea, making fangbianmian in your communal dorm kitchen, hiding in empty boxes, etc. Beijing may even lay claims to the American heartland, according to sketches for proposed Chinese passport drawings acquired by CER. Amid all the kerfuffle about China’s territorial claims in the South and East China Sea, many observers failed to notice a tiny dot way off in the American Middle West. Chinese bureaucrats, in an attempt to curry favor with their new boss, have claimed Xi Jinping’s favorite Iowa diner from his pig farming days (home of the “Walking Ched,” two croquettes of fried/breaded mac-n-cheese surrounding a mac-n-cheese burger). The delicious cheese-driven claim contravenes popular wisdom that China’s expansion is largely motivated by its demand for hard commodities. China’s territorial claim may not be sound, but the US can’t fault its philosophy: If 18th Century California featured mac’n’cheese, Americans may have gotten to the west coast that much sooner.