November 30, 2005 08:00 AM

Tom Cruise got grabby while in Shanghai on Wednesday.

When a reporter in the middle of a press conference took a phone call, the star reached over and removed the cell phone from the journalist’s hand – and started speaking to the surprised woman on the other line.

“Hello. Xie xie. Ni hao. How are you?” said an amused Cruise, dressed in black, exhausting his limited Chinese vocabulary before going on to ask if the woman – the reporter’s wife – was at work and about her marital status, the Associated Press reports.

Cruise and his crew were meeting the media after wrapping up two weeks of shooting for Mission: Impossible 3. In China, where Cruise is accompanied by pregnant fiancee Katie Holmes, he is known affectionately as “Tang Ge,” or “Big Brother Tom,” and big brother told the press there that he and Holmes have yet to set a wedding date but reiterated that it will happen next year.

He also gushed about the city’s spectacular vistas and the general thrill of his brief trip, saying he planned to come back in the future to see more of the country.

“It’s spectacular. It’s unbelievable,” he said. “It’s going to look extraordinary on film.”

As for the rest of their stay in China, Cruise and Holmes toured food stalls and were served such treats as pickled duck, candied lotus root and fermented rice soup at exclusive restaurants.

Cruise, 43, spent the Thanksgiving holiday filming in the river town of Xitang, and shopping for Holmes, 26, some 56 miles away in Shanghai. Two days later Holmes visited the Xitang set, where Cruise introduced his pregnant fianc e to the film’s extras, pointing with one hand to himself and the other to her belly.

“He was holding her hand and looked really proud,” one extra tells PEOPLE in its upcoming issue. When the day’s filming ended, “he kissed her in front of everyone,” said another.

The couple also squeezed in stops at Shanghai’s Yuyuan Garden and the Chenghuang Temple, holding hands, looking happy and relaxed.

One more tourist moment: The parents-to-be walked across the Songzi Laifeng bridge in Xitang, an act which, according to local custom, increases fertility.

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