May 11th, 2011
06:54 AM GMT
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(CNN) – When China's Vice-Premier Wang Qishan appeared Monday on  "The Charlie Rose Show"  with U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner during a two-day round of political and economic talks, Wang was asked what misperceptions the American public has about China.

“It is not easy to really know China because China is an ancient civilization and we are of the Oriental culture,” Wang told Rose on public television, according to a transcript. "The United States is the world's number one superpower, and the American people, they're very simple people," he said.

What did Wang mean by “simple”? Sounds dangerously close to  "dumb"  to American ears.

Producers from  CNN's Beijing bureau weighed in, saying “单纯 is simple and pure, in a good way. Sometimes we translate it into “innocent ,” meaning their thinking is very straightforward, not complicated.” Another producer said “depending on tone, it’s (somewhere between) neutral to patronizing.”

But in the context of the conversation, Wang seemed to be pointing toward parochialism in the average American’s view of the world.


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