HONG KONG -- If imitation is the highest form of flattery, Washington should feel highly complimented by Beijing. Over and over, China has shown that America is its role model and that its goal is to be more like the United States.

Thus, when the Chinese government decided that President Jiang Zemin, like his U.S. counterpart, needed his own official plane, they quite naturally decided to buy an American-manufactured aircraft, the Boeing 767-300ER. It was to become the Chinese equivalent of "Air Force One," the U.S. presidential plane.

But before the jetliner, refitted in San Antonio with special amenities for Jiang, was due to make its maiden voyage, Chinese officials discovered more than two dozen electronic listening devices embedded throughout the plane, including in the presidential toilet and in the headboard of his bed.