Praise for 'proverb diplomacy' Beijing - Boats, wells and water were all floated by United States Secretary of State Hillary Clinton as she charmed her Chinese hosts with 'proverb diplomacy' yesterday. She had used an ancient Chinese saying in a speech in New York before her Asia trip to describe US-China relations. 'When you are in a common boat, you need to cross the river peacefully together,' she said, which the Chinese media translated as tong zhou gong ji. Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao praised her during their meeting in Zhongnanhai yesterday, according to the official Xinhua news agency. 'As the world is faced with the grim impact of the financial crisis, I very much appreciate a (Chinese) proverb you quoted that all countries should cross the river peacefully as they are in a common boat,' said Mr Wen. The proverb is from The Art Of War by Sun Tzu, an ancient Chinese military strategist. Mr Wen shared another saying in the book with her - xie shou gong jing, or 'progress together, hand in hand'. That encouraged Mrs Clinton to offer yet another Chinese proverb. 'You should dig a well before you are thirsty,' she said, referring to the need for the two countries to work together on global issues, including climate change. The proverb is believed to be lin ke jue jing. Qinghua University international relations expert Yan Xuetong said that one of the easiest and best ways to charm in diplomacy is to make references to the other country's history, poetry or leaders' quotes. 'When she said tong zhou gong ji in New York, she was trying to tell the Chinese that she was coming to China to cooperate, not to fight,' he said.