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.

Wang went on: “If (Americans are) asked to choose to understand a foreign country, first choice would be the European countries, and the South American countries may come second.

“It was not only until recent years that the American people have begun to pay more attention to China. But over the years American media coverage of China has been scarce, and if there were some coverage, most of (the news reports) are lopsided , ”  Wang added.

Asked for response, Geithner said: “You know, the thing about America and the world is that our role in the world, we took on this huge role in the world well ahead of the understanding of Americans about what was happening in the world. And that’s changing now.

“When I went to China to study Chinese 30 years ago, it was a unique, exceptional thing,” Geithner continued. “And now, of course, there’s tens of thousands of Americans sitting in China all across the United States. And you’re starting to see a much greater investment by Americans in understanding – not just China – but all the countries that are so important to our interests.”

About 30% of Americans have a passport, compared to 60% in northern neighbor Canada and 75% in the UK. That's too low for such an affluent country, Bruce Bommarito, executive vice president for the U.S. Travel Association, recently told CNN.

Lack of cultural awareness and sensitivity can come back to haunt companies: Think Groupon’s disastrous Superbowl ad – released just as the company was launching in China – that managed to offend all sides on the troubles in Tibet.

What do you think - is the U.S. a parochial nation, and does it create a competitive disadvantage? Are there examples of cultural insensitivities that cost American business?

soundoff (446 Responses)
  1. zoglet

    "Simple" is appropriate for a nation that has replaced critical analysis of its own government with blind flag waving patriotism.

    May 11, 2011 at 7:27 am |
  2. OutofAmerica

    I've lived in 9 countries in the last fifteen years and have found Chinese to generally be unaccepting of things that are not "Chinese". It's not only China, but many Asian cultures are insular and believe that only their culture is worthwhile and has value. Upstarts, like the US, have no value because they don't have a millenia-long history. Of course, we also don't have a millenia-long history of tribalism, civil war, empirical societies and the subjugation of our citizenry.

    May 11, 2011 at 7:43 am |
  3. Adelina

    I think he meant "people with a short history." Different nationals look down on each other for one way or another. Never mind. Americans should care less about the countries of their interests but more for literacy of all nations. Invest in proper education of every American and every earthling, if you are true #1 superpower.

    May 11, 2011 at 7:47 am |
  4. Adelina

    Americans are transparent.

    May 11, 2011 at 7:49 am |
  5. John Geithner

    Americans, what we call, came together after 1490's as C.Colombus and the others invaded the North America and Canada. All Indians were killed or destroyed and the land was taken away from them by the European, who came over and robbed the rest from Indians or from other European, who came over to America. Remember how was Australia taken over by the UK. In the UK all heavy criminals were set free on boats and sent to Australia. They had all rights to kill the aboroginees. Now Australia has English as Statelanguage and America also. We are living on an eart of thiefs and killers. Good luck everybody. Take care.

    May 11, 2011 at 7:50 am |
  6. Scott Jacobs

    I think Americans are far from parochial, and that American business people are among the most savvy in the world. Whatever Wang Qishan meant, he could not have been talking about American business competitiveness. We are out here getting the early worm every day of the week.

    May 11, 2011 at 7:53 am |
  7. Adelina

    It's funny Americans care what China thinks of them now. Americans didn't have to care about such thing before except for liberation of all people from tyranny. Feminization is everywhere.

    May 11, 2011 at 7:57 am |
  8. Enrico

    What did Wang mean by “simple”? Sounds dangerously close to "dumb" to American ears. That's exactly what he did mean, and what the vast majority of the world think of Americans. Look at the morons our electorate vote for, the likes of Bush, Cheney, and oh my god 'I can see Russia from my back yard' Palin. If these are the kind of hicks Americans vote for, what else could the world think of us. When Americans travel overseas, the first thing they usually ask for is where is the nearest McDonalds, and why don't the speak English. Americans view themselcves as the center of the universe, and yet have the social norms and common sense of some back water hick. So yes, Wang was 100% correct, Americans are a 'SIMPLE' people.

    May 11, 2011 at 8:01 am |
  9. chris

    Yes Americans are good people.

    May 11, 2011 at 8:04 am |
  10. Nico

    This probably needs some editing ;-)
    "And now, of course, there’s tens of thousands of Americans sitting in China all across the United States"

    I think the rest of the world perceives that Amercans indeed have a very simple – and inexact -view of the world. Of course that in itself is a big generalization.
    But I think this sums it all:
    "About 30% of Americans have a passport".
    How do you want to be a world leader if you don't know about the world?

    May 11, 2011 at 8:06 am |
  11. Jim

    I don’t think so. America has a very divers culture because of how it was formed. People come from all over the world to live here and it gives us a wider world view. Also in America, learning about other cultures is sometimes as easy as walking out your door. However, in China the country is homogenizes with very little understanding of any countries outside of China. If anyone needs to learn more about other countries to open their world view, it’s China.


    “It was not only until recent years that the American people have begun to pay more attention to China. But over the years American media coverage of China has been scarce, and if there were some coverage, most of (the news reports) are lopsided , ”

    Maybe if they let people report on China and stop censuring everything there would be more coverage of China.

    May 11, 2011 at 8:08 am |
  12. iceman

    Simple.. No. DUMB.... YES

    May 11, 2011 at 8:10 am |
  13. reiner

    Come on, at least Ms Palin kows where Africa is.

    May 11, 2011 at 8:11 am |
  14. Davis Bradley

    Bruce Bommarito says that "About 30% of Americans have a passport, That's too low for such an affluent country" as if it were a bad thing. But it's not (for 2 reasons): (1) America is a vast country and, as such, it's not needed to travel outside the U.S. to see other cultures, and (2) America has a population that is over 310 million (compare that to UK's 60 million). Ask yourself "Would any country want millions of Americans wandering around their cities?". I think not. Imagine London (a city of 8 million) with several million Americans trampling about each year! Not a pretty picture. Already, with 30% of Americans having passports, I am surrounded by Americans wherever I travel. They're everywhere! London, Paris, Berlin, Barcelona, Tel Aviv, etc. are literally crawling with Americans already.

    Let's keep America "simple" as the Chinese say. For lack of a better word, simple is good. Simple works.

    May 11, 2011 at 8:14 am |
  15. ScudAg56

    Uh, let's see, why haven't Americans paid much attention to China over the years? Could it be the COMPLETE SHUTDOWN OF INFORMATION COMING OUT of China during that time? How many books, music, movies, TV shows have come out of mainland China before the last decade? Even now, China keeps tight control over internet sites like You Tube or Google. Don't blame us for being ignorant when you have kept yourself isolated in total darkness for 50 years, while Europe has shared her culture and history with us forever.

    May 11, 2011 at 8:18 am |
  16. Travis Brannon

    I think the very phrasing of this question reveals just how "parochial" and narrow-minded the average American consciousness is. The question frames the consequences of American egocentricity in economic terms alone – in terms of a "competitive disadvantage" and costs to "American business." The way the question is framed clearly outlines just how distorted the American psyche is by shallow economic, and therefore inevitably selfish, forces which the average American does not understand, but subscribes to nonetheless due to ideological forces he probably will never understand. American egocentricity is a well known fact the world over. It's nothing new, only new perhaps, and therefore rather shocking, to the over-inflated, self-grandiosity of the average American ego. The reporter asks nothing about the consequences of American insularity to the average American's ability to identify empathetically with, say, an Iraqi mother who has lost her son in an illegal war perpetrated by the US. The false American sense of cultural superiority is a major reason for the pervasive anti-American sentiment the world over. And this very watered down choice of diction by Mr. Wang, his idea of the US being a "simple" people, is pretty spot on for the average American. Most of them cannot see the reality of the world as a whole. They merely exist in their American bubble of mass media and the illusion of cultural superiority.

    May 11, 2011 at 8:22 am |
  17. David (in Europe)

    Of course Americans are parochial.We have been trading with Japan for decades and have many links with them, yet how much do Americans know about Japan? What is the major religion? What is important about the Japanese world view? Even when Americans visit Europe, it is mainly to view monuments, rather than to learn the culture.

    May 11, 2011 at 8:25 am |
  18. WmBlackstone

    In comparison, yes, Americans, on the whole, are a simple people. A simplistic people who are both naive and venal. Their naivite leaves open to scam after scam, as often propelled by their greed and venality. Simple, too, in that they eschew the complex for the simple. "Yankee ingenuity" is often about making things simpler, whether it's an invention or a social or political system. Poiitically simple as well as hypocritical in that they believe corruption doesn't touch their politics as in other countries as yet, time and again, it's revealed that bribery and corruption are there. But Americans generally are simple by choice - they are suspicious of too much intelligence, too much worldliness. This is changing as the demographics continue to change, however, when more and more people are realizing that blind nationalism and prejudice are not the way of the future. Americans are a promising people, but still - in comparison - a quite young people which may explain their naivite and simplicity.

    May 11, 2011 at 8:42 am |
  19. bullrich

    is hard to think of americans as culturally apt when you see that american culture is shaped by celebrities instead of ideas...

    May 11, 2011 at 9:12 am |
  20. cleopas chitapa

    what a cross cultural lesson, for my colleagues in global missions

    May 11, 2011 at 9:26 am |
  21. WordUp

    It wasn't until I lived in Europe for 10 plus years that I started to see how we American's often come off as arrogant at times with an air of "We are a super power....better than the rest" attitude which causes some to shy away from us or attempt to get to know us better. Furthermore, we tend not to travel abroad much and experience other cultures. It is way pass time we open up our minds to other ways of life/living other than our own and introduce our youth to other cultures for we are more and more a global world, interconnected and this will continue to become ever present.

    May 11, 2011 at 9:27 am |
  22. Bertrand Dumas

    Simple? In many ways, yes, both in a positive and a negative sense.
    They seek simple solutions. They have a simple world view. Their understanding of history is simple. Their understanding of philosophy is simple. Their politics are simple. Their understanding of economics is simple. They do not understand other cultures. They do not understand other religions, and often not even their own.
    In some things, simplicity is good. In some things, it is a reductio ad absurdum. Education is lacking in the US and thinking, reasoning, debating and logical analysis are poorly taught, if at all. To the rest of the world, Americans seem like overgrown adolescents who understand little.

    May 11, 2011 at 9:56 am |
  23. Tobin Alexander

    I concur. I'm American, learned Chinese when Geithner did (30 years ago) and have been living in Asia over 25 years. Premier Wang was spot-on regarding our understanding of Asian countries. America is a little over 200 years old, but we are competing/collaborating with much older cultures: China, 5000 years; India, 4000 years; Iran (Persia) 6000 years. It is important for Americans to get outside of the country and travel, or preferably live in foreign countries to better understand the world and our place in it. We are not an exceptional country, unless you count lack of international reference.

    May 11, 2011 at 10:07 am |
  24. Dutch man

    You don't have to 'understand' a culture to be able to judge the pragmatical effects of that culture, China's rich customs and rituals may give an impression of sophistication but its struggle and irresponsiveness to social issues leads you to conclude that these customs are mere fossils of an extinct culture. China is a 'Borg culture', America may be populistic but more fundamentally it carries the banner of freedom and liberty, even though our collective conceptualization of these principles seem to be in an erroneous and primordial state, it is a step in the right direction.

    May 11, 2011 at 10:15 am |
  25. Ashie

    Well,I think there were quite a few Americans who went over to the Fifa World Cup in South Africa last year and expected lions and elephants to roam the city streets....

    May 11, 2011 at 10:18 am |
  26. helen

    speaking as somebody who has lived in the states for 6 months but grew up in europe, i need to say that i did notice many people thinking in really odd stereotypes. im not saying that europeans dont have them about americans (burger-loving gunmen with crap beer and a strong sense of patriotism) but as all european countries are fairly close to each other, travelling, at least across europe, is usual for my generation. as the us try to have this one "american" culture its hard for them to see some place that is different from their home. travelling broadens the mind imensely but if youre in the midwest you can go for miles in every direction and people still speak the same language, buy at the same stores and watch the same tv programs. i wouldnt say americans are "simple" as in dumb, its just hard for them to escape the "americaness"

    May 11, 2011 at 10:25 am |
  27. kelvin

    as a person, i like to make friends with "simple" people. many people around me complain things get unneccessarily complicated. people want simplicity. simplicity makes life better.

    May 11, 2011 at 10:43 am |
  28. Jim

    OutofAmerica – "Of course, we also don't have a millenia-long history of tribalism, civil war, empirical societies and the subjugation of our citizenry."
    >> This is proof of Americans being "simple". How can Americans even begin to understand other cultures if it continues this arrogance based on ignorance even of its own history. The comparatively short history of the United States started off with the invasion, massacre and land-grabbing by the white settlers against Native Americans. Then there is the slavery of the black people, the American civil war, the sponsorship of tyrants around the world as long as it benefits American interests, the exploitation of third world countries' natural resources, and so on.

    May 11, 2011 at 10:47 am |
  29. dorobou

    Americans are simple and parochial. But this kind of mentality suits the Americans as speed and instant satisfaction/gratification are the center piece of modern American culture and mentality. Hence you have fast food chains up the wazoo (restaurants with real foods are not as appreciated comparatively speaking). Companies are also run in this manner with investors who don't really understand how to run a business or create a brand but only care about their dimes, chiming in on business strategies that could only help them achieve short term gains.

    China, on the other hand, need to make sure all things are considered (all parties are satisfied) before a decision is made, which results in time consuming, and often time, irrational decisions. This works well in China and China alone. But the direction of the wind is changing. Fast food chains are popping up here and there faster than you can say Oh My God. Short sightedness is beginning to eat into the mentality of young Chinese. How these young Chinese will shape the future of China is most interesting. The US understands that it cannot beat the Chinese if the Chinese maintain its long sightedness. So the US is teaching the Chinese how to do things like the Americans. This is the same as infecting a clean network with a virus so that the network would eventually collapse on its own. This is the only way for the US to bring China down on its knees.

    When you have two extreme poles clashing on the world stage, conflicts are inevitable. China will never become the US, and the US will never become China. How much do Americans hate to become like the Chinese? Very much, I believe. That's exactly how much the Chinese hate to become like the Americans. But we'll leave the superficial handshakes between the two powers to our politicians.

    May 11, 2011 at 10:47 am |
  30. Scott Jacobs

    I will put an American businessman up against a Chinese businessman any day of the week.

    May 11, 2011 at 10:55 am |
  31. Paul

    There are problems in both cultures. Pointing them out on the other side while not addressing or admitting your own is a character flaw that both sides share. To often everyone is more concerned with being right than doing what is right.

    May 11, 2011 at 11:02 am |
  32. John

    There is a reason that the adjective stupid is only used for one nation of people. As in "stupid american". Or you can replace it with "fat" if you choose. You could even combine.

    May 11, 2011 at 11:03 am |
  33. Observer

    Leave Americans alone and let them be what they want to be. Everyone nationality is free to chat its own course. That Wang guy is screwed up in his view of America just like all Chinese are screwed up in their view of anything that is not

    May 11, 2011 at 11:07 am |
  34. Brent Mckay

    Americans are wonderful people. However as a Canadian who has spent a great deal of time in the States, I have found that Americans know very little about the rest of the world. My Father who was a elementary school Principal once read an article about American grade 6 students who on average could only name 1 Canadian Province and only 22 of the states in the US. When he tested his own grade Six Canadian class they could name all of the Canadian Provinces and Territories and the class average for naming American States was 38. Perhaps Education is the key to creating more awareness of the world in general.

    May 11, 2011 at 11:17 am |
  35. Bill in Slidell

    Screw China. That simple enough for you?

    May 11, 2011 at 11:23 am |
  36. Jen

    I think that Americans have a very narrow view of the world and this can be the "simple" he was talking about. I am American and currently living in Italy, I have lived all over the world since I was a child and when it comes to my own country I find that the people are very much stuck in their views. Most of my family in the states don't have passports and many havn't been out of the country, in fact a lot of my family has never been out of their state. In my opinion America grew up too fast and now we're starting to slow down to match pace with the rest of the world. That being said I think America is an amazing place to call home because of the differences between everyone. I hate to see people say they "hate" us because most of the time they don't know anything about America. If you come here for vacation, or watch our TV shows, you aren't seeing the hardworking Americans that make this land great.

    May 11, 2011 at 11:26 am |
  37. Jim from Detroit

    What percentage of Chinese have traveled abroad? Not many, I'd guess, since getting an exit visa is VERY hard for Chinese citizens...ironically Americans, while not especially worldly, may be much more so than their counterparts in China.

    Its an old prejudice among the Chinese that if you are not Chinese you must be part of a simple barbarian culture who should aspire only to kowtow to the emperor and pay homage to the "central kingdom".

    May 11, 2011 at 11:30 am |
  38. Pamela

    I love visiting America and I am fascinated with the people when I am there, however I do find a severe lack of social awareness and lack of general knowledge among Americans to be honest. This is not stupidity but America’s Education standards cannot be great even on a basic level.
    I wonder is the fact the rest of the World spend so much time “watching America” as the song says… with the exceptions of China etc.
    I know here in Ireland that we do and we shouldn’t. We have enough problems of our own.

    May 11, 2011 at 11:38 am |
  39. David Cayman

    What he meant by simple was in reference to the American expectation for those they deal with to do what they promise. Oriental culture is primarily based on deceit and tricking the other person. Orientals judge themselves based on whether they are like a snake, cunning and deceitful. Orientals often laugh when an American is shocked by oriental double dealing and trickery. Having lived in East Asia for seven years I have given up that oriental culture will ever contribute to the modern world in any meaningful way.

    May 11, 2011 at 11:39 am |
  40. Mac

    "I think Americans are far from parochial, and that American business people are among the most savvy in the world. Whatever Wang Qishan meant, he could not have been talking about American business competitiveness. We are out here getting the early worm every day of the week."

    "I will put an American businessman up against a Chinese businessman any day of the week."

    You're right, Scott Jacobs. No one is talking about businessmen here, so why do you? With respect, you are merely proving all the people who think of Americans as simple, egocentric, arrogant and somewhat uneducated.. correct in their assumptions.

    May 11, 2011 at 11:41 am |
  41. chito

    The usa people are arrogant,ignorant and have not good education system.All is media manipulation.THEY HAVE NOT BRAIN.

    May 11, 2011 at 11:45 am |
  42. Jardoz

    It's interesting how others perceive Americans as if we're some new race, having only existed for 200 years... do you remember where "Americans" came from? My grandparents came from Germany, my wife immigrated from Spain. We have neighbors from China, Mexico, Kenya and India. Their children are growing up here the exact same way that I did; and their children's children will follow. So how old is America? Politically, we have one of the oldest STABLE governments on earth, socially, we are a mixture of the rest of the world going back thousands of years.
    It's amazing how so many cultures and religions have come here over the past couple of centuries and become "American". The U.S. is not a "simple" country, but relatively speaking, life is much less complicated.

    Besides, if "simple" were to be interpreted as 'dumb", how could a nation full of dummies make such an indelible impact on world history and development? The daily life of nearly every human being on earth is related in one way or another to American innovation... computers, internet, airplanes, television, artificial hearts, incandescent light bulbs, cell phones, the GPS etc. etc... and of course, Rock and Roll.
    What a "simple" culture, full of dummies!

    May 11, 2011 at 11:50 am |
  43. William

    America is very much a nation divided. Who knows, perhaps the 30 percent with the passports represents the one side, likely over-educated, urbane, traveled and holding a nuanced view of the world. Then there are the know nothings, semi-educated, insular, suspicious of difference, to whom travel means a trip to Las Vegas or Miami beach and catch-phrases (socialism, liberal) have replaced complex ideas. These tend to have a Manichean view of the world. Then there are the new immigrants, often poorly educated and so focused on trying to survive in the maelstrom that is America that nothing else matters at all.

    So are Americans Simple? Yes some of us are, probably most. But not all.

    May 11, 2011 at 12:01 pm |
  44. Henry

    I found Americans to be very intelligent and knowledgeable. I have met them across the globe. When I went to the US, and visited the Midwest, I could see why the world thinks American are dumb and simple. It is embarrassing for my close American Friends who come mostly from the east and West coast. for example: look at Bill Slidellls comment: screw you know how many people you just insulted you simple asswipe? you're not going to reinforce your opinion with something smart like those commi bastards? surprising....

    May 11, 2011 at 12:03 pm |
  45. James

    (1) America is a vast country and, as such, it's not needed to travel outside the U.S. to see other cultures, and (2) America has a population that is over 310 million (compare that to UK's 60 million).

    "It's not needed to travel outside the U.S. to see other cultures"? What does this even mean? Eatting Chinese food at Chinatown doesn't count as visiting another culture. Perhaps going to a reserve and seeing native culture, but I doubt that's what you mean. And what does the U.S. population of 300 million have to do with anything?

    Sounds like the typical American response "Why travel elsewhere? Our country is the greatest! I don't need to have a world view!"

    May 11, 2011 at 12:08 pm |
  46. Oswald Higgins

    I'm half American and happen to have lived approximately 50% of my 58 years in the US and 50% in Europe. In my experience many Europeans view Americans as somewhat childish and immature but also kind, generous – although in business quite devious and ruthless.

    Parochial? Insular? Well I had a serious conversation some years ago in Dallas with a tennis enthusiast who was working his way through college; he wanted to go to Wimbledon one day but explained he was no good at languages and asked what language was spoken in England.

    May 11, 2011 at 12:11 pm |
  47. emmanuel Rosenstingl

    Having traveled all around the world for many years and even having written a book for prospective US bussiness men called "go native", I must say that most of these posts have interested me. In my view, the american people could be divided in two categories. The real parroquial ones:"America is the only country in the word", indeed "simple" and a fringe of highly sofisticated people. For example many relatively small US towns have a good library, a good Museum of art, a musical season etc. In fact more so than comparable European cities. It is hoped that this savy cultural fringe will expand itself. If it does not, it will be largely due to the lack of interest of the successive governements and media.

    May 11, 2011 at 12:16 pm |
  48. Pierre Amiguet

    He ment the Republicans, especially, the birthers, the abortionists and in particular the evangelists – creationists. In short the almost 50% of crazy, mindless, racist, reactonary americans who, can you believe it, vote for Palin as Vice-President.And not to forget those brain washed americans (90%?) who still suport jewish settlements in the West-Bank and the Golan.

    May 11, 2011 at 1:09 pm |
  49. charlie888888

    Chinese see americans as stupid, Europeans see them as neanderthal.
    Only Americans think their country is in the top 25 of civilized nations.
    Capital punishment, murder rates, drug culture, mediocre health care (37th in the world), huge aggressive military, Legal position that money is equivalent to (political) speech.
    Oh and bankrupt with each US citizen owing 50000 USD (mostly to China).

    May 11, 2011 at 1:12 pm |
  50. ScudAg56

    The USA borders only two countries (one of which also speaks English) and has two huge oceans separating us from most of the rest of the world, so yes, we don't see too many other countries. We can drive across the USA which would easily cover the the entirety of Europe. Personally, I have travelled the world as a former Navy officer, and am writing this piece from my current job in Almaty, Kazakhstan. But the Chinese, who did not let travelers in their country until the 1970's, cannot complain about American's lack of travel or knowledge about older cultures, especially theirs. I doubt the Chinese teach very much about their history prior to 1949.

    May 11, 2011 at 1:13 pm |
  51. charlie888888

    @ Jim: My wife is chinese. since the mid 1990's there has been no requirement for an exit visa. The main difficulty in her trvel is presented by the countries to which she wishes to travel. The US is amongst the more difficult to visit. So we shoose not to visit.

    May 11, 2011 at 1:17 pm |
  52. charlie888888

    @ out of America
    But America does have a 300 year history of genocide of native americans who are the ones with millenia of history north of the Rio grande.

    May 11, 2011 at 1:20 pm |
  53. Américo

    "Simple" is an appropriate word in this way. Anywhere in the U.S.ofA. (not the same as America) you find people that buy at Walmart, eat at McDonalds, watch the same TV channels as the rest of the oh-so-big-country, think that "american" is a language, are obese, love guns, don't know what football really is, dress in cargo shorts and flipflops half of the year, complain not everybody speaks flawless english in other countries (as if themselves did), etc. Really guys, you are sooo simple...

    May 11, 2011 at 1:24 pm |
  54. methinks

    well there are many interpretations of the word 'simple'. your response to being described as 'simple' will tell you which one suits.

    May 11, 2011 at 1:29 pm |
  55. charlie888888

    @ Jim
    American are forced to pledge allegiance to a flag, daily throughout childhood.
    Brainwashing children is hardly a way to develop openminded adults.
    My children grew up in China and each time they visit europe or US they are apalled at the anti chinese propaganda.
    I regularly watch international news in Beijing of stories about how international news is censored in China.
    The US especially is stuck in a 1950s view of the world with embargoes on Cuba and a Taiiwan defense act.
    Mean while europeans, Asians and Afirca are busily streaking ahead of the "simple" US in building relations with the future leaders of the world. (India and China).

    May 11, 2011 at 1:32 pm |
  56. Jersey Louis

    As an American living in Europe who travels regularly to China and has also lived there I found this article to be particularly interesting. Catchphrases like; "their thinking is very straightforward, not complicated", "Lack of cultural awareness and sensitivity", "parochialism in the average American’s view of the world" are items that I have seen, dealt with, and discussed repeatedly ever since I left the United States 19 year ago.

    The article from Kevin Voigt asks if United States is a parochial nation and if this creates a competitive disadvantage. It also asks to give examples of cultural insensitivities that cost America(n) business. This response only considers my views to the initial two questions with the weight being given to the first question and adding in the aspect of the lack of cultural understanding. I try to give a few reasons why these exist and why change is coming.

    In my personal opinion I believe that United States is a parochial nation and that, together with a lack of cultural understanding, creates a competitive disadvantage on the business level. Indication is that this is slowly changing.

    I wish to first leave China out of this part of the discussion as I believe China is not relevant here. One reason I believe that the United States is a parochial nation is because for many years the United States was, and for the time being, still is, the most powerful economy in the world. The Unites States did not have to court other economies too aggressively to maintain their position as they where, for the most part, the ones who gave the tone on the worlds stage. The United States also played a strong role in the rebuilding of many economies after World War II. For years there was very little question from these partners and the United States as a world leader was respected and looked up to. This position of authority can cause an aspect of blindness which in turn leads to parochial thinking and a general lack of cultural understanding.

    A second reason is the geographic location and size of the United States. When comparing the United States to Europe and using Germany as an example it is rather clear why cultural understanding is more prevalent in other countries and why it is needed. Germany borders directly on Denmark, Poland, Czech Republic, Austria, Switzerland, France, Luxembourg, Belgium and Holland. Just from an economic point of view it is advantageous to be able to speak and understand how your neighbors think. The United States borders on Canada and Mexico. In regards to size one can get in a car in the United States and drive 15 hours and still have not left the country. Try that in Germany and it is fascinating to see how many different countries you can reach. This idea is strengthened when considering where in the United States one may have lived. Could it be that someone in New York City may have more interest what is going on in Europe than say someone in Idaho? I believe that the further inland you go from the East or West Coast the larger and more far away the world is or was for the average American.

    So what is causing some changes as minor as they may be? I wish here to also only touch upon two reasons although as is also the case with the above there are certainly more. The first is that technology has caused the world to become smaller and more transparent. The second is that America’s position as the strongest economy in the world is ending with the rise of China.

    As the saying goes, the world has gotten smaller but let us not forget that it used to be big. For many generations the average American microscopic daily life was not greatly or directly influenced by what was going on in Europe or Asia or other parts of the world. The international political stage was often far away and a storm front sweeping over the English channel in 1977 did not affect plans to go on a picnic on Saturday in Virginia. Technology has brought the cultures and economies of the world to the proverbial doorstep of all Americans no matter where they live. Now more than ever the world economies are more dependent on each other. Technology is causing the average American to be more aware of other cultures, world events and economic changes. Whether it is causing understanding is a different matter.

    The other reason for change I believe is China. The United States position as world leader is threatened and it is just a matter of time until China takes the lead. This threat and that American ingenuity says that money can be made but we need to speak the language are causing American’s to open their eye’s a bit more. It is forcing the United States to learn to understand their counterparts at least linguistically.

    It is likely that the concentration of effort to understand other cultures will focus too strongly on China and that Europe will continue to be largely ignored by the majority of Americans and that it probably will take a few generations until better understanding on the cultural level is achieved but it does seem that a bit of groundwork has been laid. In spite of the fact that the Europeans do have a bit more insight into the ways of their direct neighbors they and the Chinese are just as well lacking in terms of understanding the American way of life. They also will continue to use the stereotypes.

    May 11, 2011 at 1:35 pm |
  57. charlie888888

    Americans make up 5% of the worlds population, Chinese 20%, India 20%+ half a dozen nations are in the same 100million to 350 million club whihc the US occupies.Each time the US tries to behave like anything other than that statistic suggests, they can expect to be viewed as arrogant. True the US has hte largest economy based on the advantage it had in 1945 when every other industrial nation in the world had been demolished. They have been slipping ever since and are in fact bankrupt. US is a year 2000 vesion of Argentina in 1900 A once great nation in terminal decline.

    May 11, 2011 at 1:41 pm |
  58. Tobin Alexander

    I am very disappointed in comments like "screw China", and "US businessmen are better than Chinese businessmen", etc. Again, I'm an American, but I've been out here in Asia for a quarter-century. Please don't embarrass yourselves or other Americans with such drivel. The first comment speaks for itself and doesn't deserve a response from any thinking person. As for the latter, may I point out that Chinese businessmen and traders prospered all over the world for centuries prior to America even being on the map, and continue to do so. It is a long race, folks. If I were Chinese and Americans came to tell me how to run my society and country, I'd be tempted to say "Come back in a thousand years or so and we'll talk."

    May 11, 2011 at 1:45 pm |
  59. charlie888888

    The only reason the US is tolerated by europeans or Asians is their massive military.
    Bullies eventually fall. and the US is already teetering due to its overseas war policies.

    May 11, 2011 at 1:45 pm |
  60. Alex

    I think what Wang meant by "simple" means that Americans are direct, we mean what we say and say what we mean most of the time. Nothing else can be inferred. It's what's called a low-context culture. Asians on the other hand are a high-context culture. They could say one thing but mean a whole slew of different things in order to save face.

    May 11, 2011 at 1:55 pm |
  61. Hank

    I being an expatriate in Europe from America, have started to get really annoyed by the over generalizations people make about the US and other countries. Americans are dumb and ignorant, yes dumb.... but we just somehow managed as a nation to develop the airplane, TV, internet, computer, light bulb, phonograph, telephone, skyscraper, Radio (Tesla), X-Ray, liquid fueled rocket, microwave, video, laser, CD, Lunar Module, video game, cellphone, digital camera, GPS, and many other things, but yet we're dumb. America is the most multi-cultural country on the planet, with people from everywhere. We have asians, latinos, blacks, blacks, indians, arabs, native americans and just about every mix thereof, and somehow we are the ignorant ones. We have a black president for christ sake.... and no.... we are not a simple people, we come from everywhere and enjoy all sorts of different things, countries like China or those in Europe to not have the cultural mix that America does. We also have problems, and so does China.... a lot more.
    I've lived in Austria for years now, and speak fluent German, so the other generalization that we all only speak English rubs me the wrong way too.

    May 11, 2011 at 1:55 pm |
  62. charlie888888

    Politics: Palin, Trump Birthers.......... 14 Trillion dollar debt. Gun laws, murder rate.
    Supreme court interpretation of freedom of speech, becomes money is equvalent to political speech.
    Simple is too polite. Neanderthal would be more appropriate. The only reason thw world listens to a nation of 5% of tjhe worlds population is becasue of the massive US military threat to the world. (Like a supersized north Korea)

    May 11, 2011 at 2:00 pm |
  63. Joseph

    I love how everyone on this comment section is dogging on America, but where have all the truly great innovations of the last century come from? Airplane? First open heart surgery? Yeah, sure the Chinese put a rocket on a kite and flew a little bit, but really? Without the United States the world would be a very dangerous, boring place. Apple? No iPhones. Jerk offs. And socialized medicine blows. Get with it.

    May 11, 2011 at 2:17 pm |
  64. munal

    Americans are peoples who trusting someone easily, naive. This is a wonderful characteristic. Sure this is valid for old America that before 9.11. 9.11 made you paranoiac!

    Real harm from 911 attacks was converting Amserican people to paranoiacs. Mine idea is this.

    May 11, 2011 at 2:19 pm |
  65. suzanne martel

    Saying that American are simple is a bit overrated. I live north of the border and I usually find American people are friendlier and more open than Canadians. Of course, it is a matter of proportion. I just spent one year in the Dominican Republic and and I found some Americans who were complaining why the Dominicans could not speak English but I also found Americans who could speak Spanish. So in a nutshell we should not misjudge a nation by a few individuals and by Chinese standards.

    I live among Chinese in Vancouver and believe a lot of them are very self-centered which to means to me very "simple".

    May 11, 2011 at 2:26 pm |
  66. Florian

    Originally from Germany I lived in the US on 5 different occasions. And yes Americans are simple, transparent – whatever you want to call it.! Is that a bad thing? NO. Just moved back to Germany and everyday I wish I could have some of that simplicity back.

    May 11, 2011 at 2:29 pm |
  67. Natural

    Which Americans the Rich or The Poor? There's a HUGE distinction of life being lived between those two.

    May 11, 2011 at 2:36 pm |
  68. Andy ExPat in Dominican Republic

    We Americans have much to be proud of, which we are reminded of all the time, but plenty which is less than admirable, which we are constantly encouraged to deny. The general tendency of my fellow Americans to confuse "power" with "authority" is one of the reasons America lost so much esteem in the world under GWBush. The humility to lead in the world today requires a level of cultural competency that generally is lacking from mainstream America. For all our potential diversity, we have inculcated a form of cultural homogeneity abroad that makes us deaf, dumb and blind to the external perception that we are the bull* in the China room: abrupt, arrogant and full of our own self-importance and bluster, with little cognition of what goes on around us. Blame it on our geographical isolation from being bound by two large seas or a decline in the quality of public education. However, the lack of attention to meet other cultures where they are and, rather, expect them to meet us where we are, makes us lose opportunities to make the kinds of connections that play to America's strengths of creativity, innovation and high competative standards. It is not too late, but from Pat Buchanon, Newt Gingrich, George W., Sarah Palin, and other reactionary Republicans and Tea Party activists, we have been told the world needs to meet us where we are. This SIMPLISTIC notion undermines what is best about America and Americans. We can re-earn respect and esteem in the world, but just because we are powerful does not mean we have the authority to use our power, if we act like the bull* in the China shop. N.B. China, itself, has a bit of self-reflection to do in the world before it can charge forward, too. If we are looking for global leadership today, we might want to look in the lower hemisphere to Brazil...! Opinions of Andrew Wilson in Santo Domingo, DR

    May 11, 2011 at 2:46 pm |
  69. bob g.

    Ladies and gentlemen, I believe that the mentioning of this event will settle the argument as to whether or not Americans are simple people: the invasion of Iraq. It was built on a foundation of misinformation and deceit, and then eagerly accepted by most of the American people, who made no attempt whatsover to find out the facts. Many Americans were under the impression that Saddam Hussein and Osama bin-Laden were the same person. Even today, many think that Saddam Hussein was behind the 9/11 attacks. The American people- good-hearted, energetic, and probably destined to be one day be knowledgable and aware of the outside world, but at the moment, embarrasingly simple and simple-minded.

    May 11, 2011 at 2:47 pm |
  70. Bob Cains

    Perhaps the best thing is not to take offence at the term simple and regard it as being straightforward. In my experience Americans are as diverse as any other people in the world. From my first travels in the states I encountered a whole spectrum of knowledge of the outside world; from the girl who asked whether I'd driven to Florida from England to the bus driver and shop assistant who were discussing Middle East politics – naming, accurately, every country's leader in the region. I think they had military backgrounds. I think we all carry stereotypical images of each other around with us whether we from the USA, where I’ve travelled, the UK, where I’m from, Australia, where I live or China which absorbs so much raw material and produces so many manufactured goods. PS Quite a lot of Chinese travel to Australia for vacations and I believe they are heading to the US too. Perhaps growing familiarity will diminish such clichéd views of each other.

    May 11, 2011 at 2:57 pm |
  71. Paul from New York

    When I read the article I felt that the "simple" comment was meant to be a slight insult. However, I didn't pay it much attention as this is just one person's opinion. I think this would be the reaction of many Americans when on the receiving end of a petty comment. Since the US is a big country there are also many people who would take exception to the comment and voice their opinion on it. It would be their right to do this. I think it is unfair that foreigners bash Americans for doing this. When it would be more mature to just ignore it. I would think that people from ancient cultures would have gotten over pettiness.
    Also, living in the US and travelling solely in the US will expose you to a multitude of cultures....various US cultures and culture from almost every other country on the planet. So, many people just enjoy the the beauty of their own country. For example, if I want to experience China I could just walk over to air travel necessary. I thought this was common knowledge. The US must be doing something right since immigration to the US continues to be high. If so many people wish to leave their home countries to live in the US why would an American want to visit a place that is below their current standards?

    May 11, 2011 at 3:07 pm |
  72. Lucy

    Indeed American people are VERY parochial. You can just tell by reading American people's comments on this article.

    May 11, 2011 at 3:08 pm |
  73. GlobalCitizen

    Yes, American's are "simple" compared to crafty and cunning Chinese who are thieving technology from all Nations via internet hacking and plotting quietly to challenge America & India's power and superiority. They are cowards. At least America and India are trying to better themselves and help others, what are the Chinese doing apart from repressing their own people and plotting to take over the world, thieving and lying, and making a mockery of fair global trade with their state-controlled resources and support? So, yes, everyone else is "simple" in comparison. And how would they appreciate it if Obama went to China and called them "simple"? Ridiculous Chinese leaders being disrespectful to their hosts. What I'd like to know is why did Charlie Rose not ask him to elaborate what he means?

    May 11, 2011 at 3:18 pm |
  74. Elizabeth

    "There’s tens of thousands of Americans sitting in China all across the United States." Huh? How's that?? Last I checked China wasn't IN the U.S. Hmmmmmm.

    May 11, 2011 at 3:29 pm |
  75. todd

    I don't think simple is a bad thing. We take it as Simple Minded or just being below average inelegance, but that was more of a slang term that was created to "Soften" the phrase. We as Americans are a simple people,a simple people made up of a many complex individuals. When we choose to show the Untied States in artistic imagery what do we show. Norman Rockwell paintings of people enjoying the simple joys in life, Aaron Coplans music which is quite Representative of expansiveness, with simple tunes from our folk songs. Even say truck commercials which show truck owners as Simple hard working people. Our culture prides simplicity In many ways this has lead to our success, and it could also lead to our downfall.

    May 11, 2011 at 3:41 pm |
  76. Vicki Bryant

    The US educational system is possibly the lowest ranked in the developed world with a population that is semi-literate and uninformed due to the dumbing-down of the US media. Americans are an ignorant and arrogant people who cannot compete globally. The US cares nothing for its youth – therefore it cares nothing for the future. It's a "I WANT IT NOW" culture and "To the devil with tomorrow!" This capitalistic system cannibalizes the culture and brings out the worst in the human being – very sad. Glad I won't be here in the next 30-40 years! Heaven help the planet.

    May 11, 2011 at 4:12 pm |
  77. Paul from New York

    Since the US is made up of immigrants, and continues to have a large amount of immigration, the parochial tendency of Americans must have been imported from abroad. So is it just Americans who are parochial or is everyone parochial?

    May 11, 2011 at 4:22 pm |
  78. SJ

    I'm a foreigner living in the US for the 12th year now. I kinda understand what Wang meant by "simple". In the view of most Asians, westerners, especially Americans, are very shallow in terms of culture and history. A lot of comments here have been focusing on America's innovativeness and short history, but that's not all.

    Today, most Americans are still quite ignorant about the rest of the world. It doesn't matter that the US is a land full of immigrants. The majority of Americans don't get to see these "immigrants", plus even if they do, they don't care much about learning from other cultures. It's partially the immigrants' fault for only trying to interact with their own race. But anyhow, it's not the same as actually knowing foreign cultures. I've never felt so isolated in my life after living in the US. If I never watched the news, I wouldn't even know what's happening overseas . Corporate America might be taking over the world, but the average American is quite out of touch with the rest of the world.

    May 11, 2011 at 4:26 pm |
  79. Connie

    Simple here means Sincere and Transparent. That is a praise.

    May 11, 2011 at 4:28 pm |
  80. Ronald Watson

    Having lived in Spain for the last 38 years, I can say that Americans are respected and envied here, though the leftest news media has painted us as retarded, until Obama came to power. Whatever, though Americans must understand other cultures better, we must not degrade our basic values, especially transparency. In fact, American democractic values are what makes us repected, apart from our military and economic clout. Actually, when Americans come on the scene, other cultures begin to get their acts together, regardless of all the corruption involved. China is a great example, where they are being pressured toward political freedom, though the country doesn't have a democracy. It is much of the world that must change in the 21st century, not the U.S.A., and I´ve seen this time and time again. Moreover, W. Leaks has shown just how strong are those values in our diplomatic corps., if not the country itself. Anything less is unacceptable.

    May 11, 2011 at 4:32 pm |
  81. JO

    I'm just curious why my comment was marked "awaiting moderation" when I stated facts concerning the Chinese government. But comments that lambast Americans and the US are readily posted by CNN.

    My question to CNN is, why would you "moderate" known and easily verified facts regarding China yet unflinchingly post otherwise subjective - and intolerant - comments regarding the US?

    May 11, 2011 at 4:38 pm |
  82. Kynt

    I would think he meant simple in inexperienced, with a short history. America is simply lacking the wisdom that comes with history.

    And Americans can argue all they want about lack of money or time to travel. In other countries, people don't have more of either and still travel more. It's about wanting to travel, about being interested in different cultures and histories. Americans think they are interested in history when they are attending a CW reenactment and they cite cultural differences when they argue over whether or not grits are part of breakfast or if it's called soda or pop.

    May 11, 2011 at 4:39 pm |
  83. Moe

    Fellaz, why look far away to China to realize that Americans are simple. Look up north to Canada and you'll realze that Americans are indeed a very simple people; and we're talking people on the same continent here.

    May 11, 2011 at 4:45 pm |
  84. Isaac

    "Simple" is most definately and appropriate term for the majority of this country. Considering 60-70% of the people will say they don't believe evolution is real I would say "simpletons" would be even more accurate.

    May 11, 2011 at 4:54 pm |
  85. Doomguy

    Would a simple people be launching probes into deep space and have put people on the moon? Would a simple people be made up of every type of ethnic background on earth all living for the most part, peacefully together? Would a simple people make it possible to start with nothing and work your way to enormous fame or wealth without being born to the right parents or connected to the ruling party? Would a simple people have a system of government and law whose system of innocent until proven guilty founded the entire science of forensics?

    I don't think so. You want simple, go to North Korea or Syria.

    Fact is, this is the bets place on earth to be. I wouldn't want to have been born anywhere else.

    May 11, 2011 at 4:58 pm |
  86. leo

    Is it fair to lump everyone together? There are certainly less educated people that scream louder than anyone about things they obviously don't understand, but that shouldn't take away from the people having a real conversation. Although, admittedly, it does sidetrack the conversation a lot and some smart people use those dumb people to their advantage.

    May 11, 2011 at 5:00 pm |
  87. Sid

    Simple ... No
    UNEDUCATED and IGNORANT yes. A society more worried about what man of what color can throw what ball how far, can run how fast etc; but who lack any understanding of their own history, geography, place in the world, or have any knowledge of "things" outside the US. Their is a whole wide world out there; that Americans have no knowledge of and sadly no thirst or desire for that knowledge. Until you have traveled outside of your county/state, you will never understand! FINALLY – Please learn to Read and Write – Thank You America!

    May 11, 2011 at 5:00 pm |
  88. hawkechik

    Perhaps it's just me, but I took that to mean "uncomplicated." As for the passport thing. I would *love* to travel. But we just can't afford it. It would cost $2-4,000 for a trip of any meaningful length and I have too many other things I have to spend a couple grand on. Mortgage for one.

    May 11, 2011 at 5:01 pm |
  89. JO

    Regarding charlie888888 comment about genocide of Native Americans "north of the Rio Grande", I'm not sure where you are from, but as someone who is of Native American descent I am often curious as to why Latin American genocide and the Spanish Conquest are so lightly treated.

    Here's a recap: 70% of natives dead in Central America; 90% dead in S. America; nearly 100% dead in the Caribbean. Columbus landed in 1492. Jamestown was founded in 1619. What happened during the 117 year interim? More than 50% of the native population was wiped out by the Spanish in what today is the US. The final tally is probably more than 60% (because the Spanish didn't stop once Jamestown was founded).

    Latin Americans get a free pass concerning their genocidal history while the US is repeatedly labeled with 'killing the Indians'. Granted, my ancestors did not have an easy time, no doubt. But your comments are direct evidence of how little you and others know of the US - or should I say want to know. Congratulations, you have just outed yourself as one of those stereotyping individuals with little knowledge of what you are talking about.

    Now that's simple.

    May 11, 2011 at 5:01 pm |
  90. Andrea M

    *Sigh* Of course we understand Europe and Latin America better. Most of us are of European or Latin American descent. Our families have passed us the traditions of those cultures. If you're American of Chinese descent, you'll clearly understand Chinese culture better simply because it's part of your history.

    May 11, 2011 at 5:01 pm |
  91. Katherine

    I think in whatever context you take Wang’s commentary, he is the one who’s thinking is too “simple” in reference to the United States.
    Yes, the U.S. has only a few hundred years of “American” history in comparison to China with their few thousands of years. There I have no argument, but let me just remind all that the States are a melting pot. Very few American’s can claim to be from one origin. The U.S. may have started with Native Americas and groups of Irish, English and other country immigrants, but soon those backgrounds and cultures were merged and continue to be mixed today. I myself am Italian, English, French and Ukranian. One my father’s side alone are two foreign born relatives; an Afghani uncle and German aunt. We (all 16 of us) take family trips together to Italy. At Christmas we celebrate by eating Indian food and say word of thanks in as many languages and religions as we can think of. What about us is simple? I do not want to tell my life story, but rather to indicate the range of cultures and say that my family is not an exception. While it may be more blatantly diverse, diversity in general is the norm of the American culture. We are able to experience multiple cultures everyday as we live in a cause and effect environment. What one family’s culture brings to America has an effect on other Americans.

    While we may not be solely experience a single culture, I believe that is a benefit and most American’s are more open minded as a result of it. So while China may have thousands of years of one culture, we are composed of hundreds of cultures dating 1000s of years and we have combine to become one, American. The U.S. is anything but simple. If it looks simple to some, maybe then we are just too complex to understand.

    Just my simple take on Wang’s simple comment.

    May 11, 2011 at 5:03 pm |
  92. shoegazer

    God created war so that Americans would learn geography.
    ~Mark Twain

    May 11, 2011 at 5:03 pm |
  93. Ivy Leauge Redneck

    Yes, we are Americans are very simple indeed. We enjoy beer, nascar, college football, and guns. However simple we are, we still manage to out-produce, out-innovate, and out-compete everyone in the world. Americans are simple, and I wouldn't have it any other way.

    May 11, 2011 at 5:03 pm |
  94. may 3 1999


    May 11, 2011 at 5:03 pm |
  95. oneSTARman

    Micheal Moore described in an interview; what he saw as the rest of the World's feelings about Americans this way, "...I don't think its ALL bad. I think Americans are seen as having a certain CHARMING, WIDE-EYED NAIVITE'.."

    May 11, 2011 at 5:03 pm |
  96. Johnny

    Yes, we are a simple people! As an american who was born in a big city and moved to the country. I've discovered how simple a people we really are. Formal education takes a backseat, I see people who let their families eat crappy food, but, spend top dollar on a gun. Gun rights overshadow human rights. They let their local pastors tell them how to vote! Change is something that is portayed as evil and people really don't care about others in the world. If you're smart, then you are an evil liberal and we don't like your kind round these parts...

    May 11, 2011 at 5:04 pm |
  97. Mongo

    Mongo just pawn in game of life.

    May 11, 2011 at 5:05 pm |
  98. Tim

    Obviously, every country has "simple" people, including the USA. Sometimes it does seem like more than other countries per capita, but I think it's about equal. I deal with people all over the world on a daily basis and I don't see much difference. Unfortunately, the political rhetoric and cynicism over the current US president with unfounded, outlandish accusations are what seems to show us citizens as more "simple" than normal (though it's comparable to the reelection of Bush in 2004 and how that also made us look).

    May 11, 2011 at 5:05 pm |
  99. Global Traveler

    Americans cannot be defined by a single term. Certainly there are dumb people among us. They stand on street corners with badly-lettered and poorly-spelled signs drawing logical conclusions put into their heads by Glenn Beck. On the other end of the American spectrum are people who have invented the PC, TV, radio, the transistor, the cell phone, started the internet, invented medical technologies that are the envy of the world, designed equipment in use by every single other country in the world, gone into space and landed on the moon, and are some of the most, "get out of my way, I've got things to do" people anywhere. Where America has challenges is that we are bordered by two oceans, we have a common language and culture. The entire region of Western Europe, almost 47 countries and considerably more languages, dialects, and sub-cultures. Because of this, Europeans (and many other regions in the world...India for instance has over a thousand dialects and dozens upon dozens of different cultures) must be global and multi-lingual as a necessity. As often happens, we've fallen behind a tad, but as often happens right after that, we wake up and go kick butt.

    May 11, 2011 at 5:06 pm |
  100. Jake

    As a sailor I mix with many cultures from over the world. When talking about American's to people, there is normally a tongue in the cheek response and the general consensus is that Americans are dumb arrogant people. I think this was caused by the Iraq mistake (ignoring the UN and the rest of the world) and Hollywood that portrays Americans as arrogant hero's with no concern for the life's of the "bad guys". Remember, although you're a great nation, we all share this rock called earth. However the few American's I've personally met were truly pleasant ambassadors with warm welcoming personalities. So too is the Americans I do business with. I think as a nation you ought to work harder on the image you put out there. But then, you're on your way there with simple things such as asking the question "are Americans a simple people?"

    May 11, 2011 at 5:06 pm |
  101. Virtus Probi

    Canadians have passports so they can visit the US and because so many of them are immigrants from Asia...people in the UK have them because so many of them can visit continental Europe in a matter of hours without even flying. That's a red herring.
    I think that Wang basically meant that Americans are direct and basically view money and family as the main sources of happiness...don't view it as an insult, myself.

    May 11, 2011 at 5:09 pm |
  102. HenryMiller

    Yes, the US is a parochial nation, but its people are not "simple" by any of those definitions.

    But the country can afford to be parochial because it's very big and is composed of a huge variety of internal subcultures–call it an internally cosmopolitan parochialism, if you will.

    And I suspect that what Mr Wang perceives as "simple"–perhaps he meant "naive"–is actually indifference–for the most part, Americans don't care all that much what happens in other parts of the world.

    (BTW, I'm German by birth–"Henry Miller" is an Anglicisation of my real name.)

    May 11, 2011 at 5:11 pm |
  103. Anon

    Gee, I wonder if the reason so few Americans have passports is because of the insane expense of traveling overseas. Also, do other countries charge their citizens for a passport? It's a full week's pay just to purchase the passport, months of waiting for the paperwork to be processed, if you are even accepted to receive a passport. We can't take a pet out of country and return with the pet either. I'm sorry but why would I pay $5,000 to travel to Europe for a week when I can travel the entire country for a month for the same amount of money with none of the hassel. Americans are lucky that we have such a large, diverse country that traveling within the country provides the same variety of cultures as traveling overseas. Oh and in case some of you don't realize this, there are many places in America where people will not speak English. Other places one would be hard pressed to call the language English even though it is, technically speaking.

    May 11, 2011 at 5:12 pm |
  104. Bobby

    Americans are dumb.

    May 11, 2011 at 5:12 pm |
  105. Bob

    We are simple in that we are young.

    America is barely over 200 years old. Meanwhile countries like China have been around for thousands upon thousands of years. Methinks he's just upset that this baby of a country, hardly passed it's diaper phase, is the world's #1 superpower, the world's #1 military, and the #1 economy (even with our current economic woes)

    May 11, 2011 at 5:13 pm |
  106. Dave

    Oh yeah?
    Then why the mile long line outside every Apple store in China for iPad 2.

    May 11, 2011 at 5:15 pm |
  107. Jim Dav

    "Simple " may be too complex a word for most to understand in America. That is a country where 45 million think Adam and Eve had Dinosaurs for pets 6000 years ago

    May 11, 2011 at 5:15 pm |
  108. John B

    "About 30% of Americans have a passport, compared to 60% in northern neighbor Canada and 75%"

    Perhaps this has much to do with the fact that all of the UK and most Canadians live within a few hundred miles of the border of another country? Fewer Americans have passports because fewer Americans NEED to have passports. This is one of the unavoidable things about living in such a large, spread out country

    May 11, 2011 at 5:16 pm |
  109. Jessica, NJ

    It's hard to understand any foreign country when the only time we see a foreign country on the news is because of a disaster or a scandal. Didn't used to be that way but today it is very hard to know what goes on overseas with the current media save for the PBS News Hour.

    Also most Americans currently lack the ability to reason with logic and problem solve. This is why the GOP have so many people vote for them on a consistent basis when in reality they are voting against their own economic welfare. They fail to reason with the available scientific facts and all too often replace reality with one that has been spoon fed to them by those that so not have their best interest at heart. This is a very scary trend.

    May 11, 2011 at 5:16 pm |
  110. shawn

    We are simply people...just move the midwest and see how simple and ignorance have taken over middle America. we have lost our edge, our education and our desire to excel hidding behind conservative social and economic principals while flag waving and waring our money away. (enough with my rant).'s dumb out here in Ohio. Everyone is a racist and ignorant and unapologetic about both!

    May 11, 2011 at 5:18 pm |
  111. Joe Somebody

    Most Americans don't have passports because there isn't much of a need for one. Americans can find just about anything they'd like in America. If they want a beach, there's southern California, Myrtle Beach, etc. If you want skiing, there's New England skiing, skiing in Colorado and Utah and Wyoming, there's skiing in Lake Tahoe, etc. There are PLENTY of places you can go just to tour and say you've been there such as the Grand Canyon, Mount Rushmore, Yellowstone, etc. Plus, the cultures vary so much from regions to regions in America. Heck, look at a southern accent vs. a northern accent. It's practically a different language! And the cultures? Look a guy in his early 20s in southern California and compare him with a guy in his early 20s from New York or Montana or Texas. Everything is so varied in America that most people wouldn't be able to see even half of America in their lifetimes. So for most people, America's being so varied and the fact there are soooo many places to see and things to gives them little reason to get a passport and leave the country.

    Why do you think so many Canadians might have passports? Firstly, a HUGE portion of their country is completely unpopulated. Isn't it like 90% of their population lives in the southern provinces? Where are there beaches in Canada? Where is there hot in Canada? Canada is a cold weather type of place so there isn't the variety of weather and climate in Canada that the US has. No offense intended towards Canada but there isn't the huge variety that America has and so if they want to get outside of the cold and do something very exotic, you pretty much have to leave the country.

    And the UK? The UK is a VERY tiny country and it has the lack of variety that Canada has. If you want to ski or snowboard, you're pretty much leaving the UK. If you want good beaches, you're pretty much leaving the UK. If you want to get out of the cloudy skies, you're pretty much leaving the UK.

    It's common sense when you think about it. Besides the fact America is so different in each region, most people don't want to travel. Heck, tons of people probably haven't even left their own state. And some their own city. I wouldn't call Americans "simple" since there's so much in this country, and that's why most people have little reason to leave it.

    May 11, 2011 at 5:18 pm |
  112. Roguey

    It is a generalization but yes, Americans are simple. Generally they are brainwashed with Christianity and television.

    May 11, 2011 at 5:18 pm |
  113. Bart in Omaha

    We can't be simple. Look at all of the different variations of the "snuggie" that we have available.

    May 11, 2011 at 5:19 pm |
  114. chaz Romano (not real name. take that CNN)

    what it is is these people who lack education and cultural experience and who see it as a form of pride to never leave their states. These are the people who say they will never go to NYC, LA, or Chicago because they "will get shot". America is turning into a country that is very ignorant. People from europe, who are better educated and have more cultural experiences believe that Obama is doing a great job with the economy but if you ask someone in this country why they dislike obama they are never able to formulate an argument. I could not agree more with the vice-premier's statements. Americans are very parochial (dumb/Simple minded). And I am an american. One way to slow the tide of this problem would be to make it illegal for those who did not graduate high school to vote (not retroactive).

    May 11, 2011 at 5:20 pm |
  115. AtheistIsTheOnlyWay

    When you got tens of millions of people praying to gods, then yeah, it's safe to say you are a 'simple' people. Jesus this, jesus that... praying and leading your life under the direction of a fairy tale book written by men about a god that is as imaginary as Santa Claus... Sad and pathetic.

    May 11, 2011 at 5:21 pm |
  116. Prof. Joe

    I teach 3 Study Abroad classes each year for a large east-coast state university. When we travel, from time to time some of the people we have contact with (Europeans) confess occasionally that my students have changed their standard view of American youth: they are not as fat, lazy, insular, dumbed-down and self absorbed as they had supposed.

    But then again, my students, like most Study-Abroad college students, tend to be the brightest and the best of students. I often wonder if my European colleagues would say the same thing if they were to interact with average suburban teens in the 'States?

    May 11, 2011 at 5:25 pm |
  117. hank

    Let me just say this; in a purchasing function I buy materials from both the US, Asia and Europe. If I need to fill an order of 250 items and I send this to a US company for a pricing request it regurlarly takes 4 to 6 weeks to get a response.
    My European supplier has provided me with a price list so very often I have sent in pricing to my client and ordered the products from Europe even before I have received a contest from the US. No wonder the US economy is still struggling to get back up.

    May 11, 2011 at 5:26 pm |
  118. lemonade

    Forget what the interview says or does not say about Americans, think instead about what this says about China.

    May 11, 2011 at 5:28 pm |
  119. ???

    Having lived in China, I would agree we are simple. So are the Chinese.

    May 11, 2011 at 5:29 pm |
  120. Simple our television...look at our 'public' schools...look at your kids...he might have meant uncomplicated or straightforward, but he should have meant "just plain old dumb."...our kids excell at texting the language in abbreviated symbols.letters/numbers...their kids speak at least two lanhguages fluently and do calculus for fun....give me a break. We're dumb...look at what we've done to ourselves....

    May 11, 2011 at 5:31 pm |
  121. Marco

    Americans are the dumbest people. The vast majority of Americans can only speak one language. The vast majority of Americans are horrid at math. The vast majority of Americans (more this generation than the previous) are blatantly lazy. The vast majority of Americans are CLUELESS as to how good they have it.

    May 11, 2011 at 5:31 pm |
  122. idae

    One thing Americans have to learn is Just because you have the Might doesn't mean it's Right.

    May 11, 2011 at 5:32 pm |
  123. Colin Ferguson

    What a great conversation - I'm happy to read the comments, even the ones I don't fully agree with. It's rare you can have a touchy topic discussed without random shouts of "Bush is Hitler" or, in contrast, "USA! USA!".

    Having lived in Asia, Europe, USA and Canada, I think Vice-Premier Wang nailed it. Most Americans enjoy life on simple terms. They believe in Good vs. Evil, War as a force for good, strip malls, suburbia, getting their culture from TV, needing an "other" to be an enemy, and even their own country right or wrong while loathing most politicians. An adolescent approach that Europeans have left behind, as some posters have put it.

    Why would Americans have to have a nuanced version of the world - most things in life there are pretty easy, even the politics with voting for blue or red? And that's more determined by your birth and neighbours than any other factor.

    And simple can be good. Avoiding overcomplicating life is proven to be a key driver of personal happiness.

    So, yeah, their simplicity is bad for the rest of the world, but on an individual level, not a bad thing.

    May 11, 2011 at 5:32 pm |
  124. idae


    May 11, 2011 at 5:33 pm |
  125. 11:11

    Reading many of these comments leads me to believe that many non-Americans have simple views as well. The population of America is made up of all of your cultures and histories. Don't use Hollywood as a measure for what is American, you'll only get a two dimensional image.

    May 11, 2011 at 5:33 pm |
  126. Jersey Louis

    I may be getting off track from what was originally asked for here but I feel I need to comment again.

    Wang said, "It is not easy to really know China because China is an ancient civilization and we are of the Oriental culture,”

    Then a response here noted that the Chinese culture is 5000 years old.....

    Does anyone anywhere know the real Chinese culture of past? Did the Chinese culture not cease to exist on October 1, 1949? Did planning failures like The Great Leap Forward or more relevant the Cultural Revolution not destroy the ancient Chinese culture.

    To bring this down to lower level: anyone who say’s that their s- does not stink is arrogant and narrow minded. EVERYONES S- stinks!

    May 11, 2011 at 5:33 pm |
  127. rick

    Simpletons more like it. I mean seriously, after a hard day at work my best stress relief is going home and watching American political news and having a good laugh. When you witness the constant buffoonery so perfected by the American right wing in the past 10 years or so it's hard not to be happy just for not having to live there.

    May 11, 2011 at 5:34 pm |
  128. Lila

    Ridiculous. Yes Americans should travel more, but the ones who do travel A LOT. What percentage of Chinese have passports? Not many. Comparing the US to Canada and the UK doesn't make sense when you look at our populations. Compare all the European countries and see what you get. Rural people are simple regardless of the country. There are shocking similarities between tribes in Africa, farms in China and states like Wyoming. Same with city people too.

    May 11, 2011 at 5:35 pm |
  129. George

    The fact that you have to ask this question and debate it shows us all how simple Americans really are. Simple, Dumb, and poorly governed.

    May 11, 2011 at 5:36 pm |
  130. Chris

    That Chinese man is ignorant. This isn't even a unified country, it's torn apart by radically different thinking from various ethnic groups and politics. Simple my a55...
    This country is far from a "people" it's a bunch of enemies thrown into the same pot that can easily turn to bloodshed at any moment.

    May 11, 2011 at 5:36 pm |
  131. Jack Alom

    I take no offense to Wang Qishan's comment that we are a simple people, but I politely disagree. Americans are amongst the most complex of any people, good and bad, more so good. The wonderful mosaic that makes America great is in our variety of cultures, thoughts, and opinions, all of which, as evident on this web page, we do not hesitate to share. This is the true beauty of America and what has made us a great nation in the eyes of the world. It has fueled our innovation, our knowledge, our desire to succeed. It rouses in us the need to help countries less fortunate than we are and assist in times of need. And this is why my friends, I am a proud, complex American.

    May 11, 2011 at 5:37 pm |
  132. Jim

    I think all people are simple. Including me.

    May 11, 2011 at 5:38 pm |
  133. Carl

    We are definitely a very inward looking nation and fairly clueless about the rest of the world. We also have a sense of arrogance in our greatness that is likely to be our downfall.

    That being said... as someone that has spent a lot of time in China and am engaged to a Chinese woman, I have to say the Chinese as a whole are extremely self centered and self interested to a degree that's even bigger than America. The Chinese name for China roughly translates to the "central" or "middle" country, in the sense of China being the center of the world and everywhere else being secondary. That sense of themselves still holds today.

    May 11, 2011 at 5:39 pm |
  134. Melissa

    If by simple you mean ignorant and naive, then yes, yes they(we?) are.

    May 11, 2011 at 5:41 pm |
  135. WACNJ

    To all the self-hating Americans here posting from up on your high horses, I'll give a quote from a simple show like South Park to sum up my view. "America may have some problems, but it's still our home, our team. And if you don't want to root for your team, then you can get the hell out of the stadium."

    May 11, 2011 at 5:41 pm |
  136. v

    Simple .. no. Trecherous .. yes.

    May 11, 2011 at 5:42 pm |
  137. Victor

    China official meant Americans don't understand China so please don't lecture China on Human Right. It is only a way for him to counter-criticism. That's also what Chinese learns in school and propaganda that other people don't understand China.
    It is China communist that not allow Chinese to freely understand the rest of the world truthfully, not through the prism of communism and using nationalism to incite the Chinese to believe in the communist government.

    Having a long history doesn't mean being civilized. Civil means polite, fair, democracy, transparency... China doesn't have that with its long history. What bothers the rest of the world is communist system. Communist is worst than facisim. Here we are not talking about Chinese people, but the gorvernment, the China communist system. Under communists, Chinese are prisoned to communist ideology, not their long history.

    May 11, 2011 at 5:43 pm |
  138. ted

    a better term for Americans would be fat lazy mouth breathers. just read some of the posts on cnn.

    May 11, 2011 at 5:43 pm |
  139. Zach

    There was a survey done a few years ago and the results showed that over 50% of Americans never leave the county they're born in. As a proud American I am very ashamed of this number, more people need to get out of their little bubble and realize that there is more to life than going to Wal-mart or McDonald's. I feel very fortunate to have traveled the world and have a great appreciation for the cultures and customs of the world. Although there may be many "simple" Americans it's not true of all of us. Being a political official Mr. Qishan should know to choose his words more wisely and not make such generalizations.

    May 11, 2011 at 5:43 pm |
  140. VA

    So much generalizing is so dangerous. I have travelled all over the world and I have heard just as much ignorance about the world oversees as much as the US or more. In fact, most people from the US that I know have travelled oversees and many speak more than one language. Also, the ignorance about the US I encounter overeseas is amazing. Everyone thinks that the Hollywood/Vancouver version of the US is real. Please, the US is a huge country made up of people from all over the planet. And if you want to point fingers on oppression no one is innocent.

    May 11, 2011 at 5:43 pm |
  141. Scott

    Considering they're financing our economy, I guess they figure they can say what ever they want. To be fair, If we were funneling trillions of dollars into another country, we would probably think they were simple too.

    May 11, 2011 at 5:44 pm |
  142. missy

    When asked, I tell people I'm from Canada.

    May 11, 2011 at 5:44 pm |
  143. Mary

    We are a simple people. There is no insult in that. Regardless of how stupid our own people may seem to us, simple is still good. We aren't complicated by thousands of years of culture. We aren't hobbled by thousands of years of history, which is usually of violence and hatred. We are simple. We profess the belief in Democracy as a goal, even when we struggle toward it ourselves. We hold the truth of equality to be self-evident, even when we struggle toward it ourselves. Our ideals are simple and pure. We are a simple people.

    May 11, 2011 at 5:45 pm |
  144. Georgia Wolf

    The article sites the percentage of population in the USA that have visas as opposed to Canada and England. Yes, fewer Americans travel to other countries. Even more so when compared to Europeans. But that is because the USA has almost everything a person could want. Mountains, coastlines, wide open spaces, big cities, deserts, the tropics, forests, natural wonders of all kinds. In Europe they are forced to transit countries tho see the same things we transit state lines for. Even Canada, which is a beautiful country needs to come to the US to see a warm water shoreline like southern California or the Gulf Coast. So yes, Americans can be uneducated in the culture of other countries, but then it's because we have the GREATEST COUNTRY IN THE WORLD!

    May 11, 2011 at 5:46 pm |
  145. Andreas Lumkemann / Germany

    I do not have numbers here, but I believe that in percentage of the overall population more Americans could have been abroad in comparison to the Chinese people. For years I am working closely together with Americans and this changed my views on the country and it's citizens a lot – to the better I say.
    Coming from a country with 40% of tree huggers the general views here are not less based on prejudicements then that of culturally more distant civilizations. So purely pointing at the americans seems a very single sided point. It is up to the chinese to readjust as well – starting with basic things as freedom of speech for its own people. There will be not much more understanding in the western cultures if these things don't change first.
    I would wish that more Americans would travel the world as it would help eliminate a lot of views that are based on heresay.

    Just my 2 cents.

    May 11, 2011 at 5:46 pm |
  146. RobesPierre

    Simpletons, more like it.

    May 11, 2011 at 5:46 pm |
  147. Logan

    Short history? How exactly do we have a short history? Our culture began 2,500 years ago in Greece. We're no younger or older than China.

    May 11, 2011 at 5:46 pm |
  148. Mercury

    America. The worlds number one country. A super power.

    Well, it does have the mightiest military power. And spends the peoples money on it and such as space pioneering.
    But does it look after the American people?
    Do you get holidays/vacations like in Europe? Do you get well looked after if you lose your job.
    Do you get free health care when you are poor or old?
    Why is it that the man and wife both work full time and yet do not have anything left over to save for car repairs not to mention saving for old age.
    The American people are getting a very rough deal. The governmental bodies have forgotten their purpose- to be servants to the people. Not dictators.
    The American people deserve a lot better. So take a look around and find out just what Europe gets. And what Americans don't.

    May 11, 2011 at 5:48 pm |
  149. Bob Hamilton

    Simple is not the right word. Stupid, arrogant, uneducated, myopic, undisciplined, selfish and ignorant is what he was trying to say. And he is correct. The chinks have their own issues, but their ascendancy will not be stopped and may last for a very long time. We need to learn to speak Chinese as soon as possible, which should not be a problem because kids in school today are not learning how to speak good American no how.

    May 11, 2011 at 5:48 pm |
  150. Timothy Ryan Richardson

    America's not the way she use to be, this Country use to be on the top. But as the years go by, were becomming more on the Bottom. I love my Country so much, I want to see her suceed. Our morals as American's are decreasing every single year. What is wrong with America now?
    Abortion is murder, but were allowed to kill the baby. Homosexuals are allowed and the People of America say it's okay. When it's not okay. All we do now is hear about where children are shooting each other in our School's. Our homes are not even safe anymore.
    We look at how America use to be with our Grandparents and our Great grandparents, and look what were doing with her now. All the Wickedness and Evil in our Country, started when Madelyn O'Haire took Prayer and the Ten Commandments out of our School's.
    Us Christians will say oh it's okay, they know best. When they don't, GOD is Love, GOD is Mercy, and GOD is the Truth of the world. While Satan is Anger, Satan is Hatered, and Satan is the lies of the World. Christians it's time for us to stand up and say enough is enough, it's time we bring GOD's love back to America.
    We can bring America back to the way she use to be, all we have to do is work together. America use to be, UNITED. But now America is I don't care about nobody but myself. Well American's, well Christians, it's time for us to take America back to the way she use to be. It's time that we bring America back to GOD. It's time we bring GOD's Glory back to America!!!!!!! GOD BLESS AMERICA!!!!!!!!!

    May 11, 2011 at 5:50 pm |
  151. Sloo

    No, Americans aren't simple, just stupifyingly ignorant of policy, history and economics, laughably proud of voting against their own economic interests time after time, and easily bamboozled by a chattering class of opportunistic clowns. And they cling to a devil theory of scapegoating the 'other' like an abused chid clinks to a filthy rag doll. America is no longer the land of boundless freedom and promise; it's the land of crippling debt and consumptive disease, spewing out draconian public policy like the reproductive frenzy of a population verging on extinction. The sun is setting, folks...the tide of progress and opportunity is flowing away from our shores, not to them.

    May 11, 2011 at 5:50 pm |
  152. Brian

    lol @ zoglet

    I am afraid you are right.

    May 11, 2011 at 5:51 pm |
  153. Phil in KC

    I do not think Americans are simple, if you define that as being unintelligent. But, to answer the question at the end of the article, I do think many, many Americans are parochial. I'd even say they're insular. They make no attempt to understand other cultures and many dislike and distrust that which they do not understand. The book, and later the movie, The Ugly American came out when I was still quite young. It was, according to the pundits, supposed to open our eyes, change our views and our attitudes. It didn't. There are wide swaths of this country whos international attitudes are firmly rooted in the past.

    May 11, 2011 at 5:55 pm |
  154. Myrch

    While Wang never intended his use of the word "simple" to mean "dumb," looking at the jingoistic and anti-Chinese responses on this page is causing me to reassess whether the misperception is true after all.

    May 11, 2011 at 5:56 pm |
  155. TruthSeeker

    Americans ARE simple, for the most part...and arrogant, and selfish, and greedy, and unconscious. The more college degrees this country gives out, the less intelligent this country seems to be. The elite with the power tell us what we want to hear, and we-typically-can't see past our own piles of crap that we collect.because it's what we consider to be 'the American dream'. We should not be the masters of the universe that we like to pretend to be. We are not God (by any of his names).

    May 11, 2011 at 5:58 pm |
  156. Gerald West

    The Chinese Vice-Premier is a perceptive and wise man. The Chinese are fortunate to have such leaders; surely the Chinese economic and cultural miracles are due to wise leadership as much as to an energetic and industrious citizenry.

    May 11, 2011 at 5:58 pm |
  157. American

    Liberals are the devil. Don't trust a liberal with your wallet because by the time you get it back it'll be empty because the liberal will give away your cash to the lazy minorities, and when the cash is gone, will use your credit cards to give money to lazy minorities, and expect YOU to pay the bill at the end of the month and be HAPPY about it. All the while hanging onto THEIR money with their grubby paws.

    May 11, 2011 at 5:59 pm |
  158. Noneya Bidness

    Perfect example that he was right.... This article started off talking about geopolitical issues and somehow morphed into a discussion of how to make more money through international business. Americans are simple people: Money, hamburgers, TV, and sex... After that – who cares right? Its still 1982 here in this country.

    May 11, 2011 at 6:00 pm |
  159. MikeR

    There was a time when Americans were the most inventive, dynamic, industrious, and philosophical people on the planet. Lol...that didn't last long. Now our zombie culture of celebrity worship, thuggish violence, drumbeat-driven inhumanity, and lowered expectations and paranoia rots away our once mighty will and drive. Our kids would rather induce themselves into techie comas than use their brains for creative, thoughtful, imaginative pursuits. Great fabrics of our culture like spiritualism, honor, education, ingenuity, fortitude, and constitutionality have been ripped apart by the pursuit of money, fame, and leisure. YES, Americans are simple. If it requires work, skip it. If it requires thoughtful perspective, deny it. If it requires compassion, hate it. If it requires ingenuity, outsource it.

    May 11, 2011 at 6:00 pm |
  160. mytabloids

    The statistic about passports is disingenuous and misleading. Most of the population of Canada lives within something like 50 miles of the US border. Hence, if they want to travel to the more populace and diverse US, they MUST go south and they must have a passport. Other than lakes and woods, there just isn't much in Canada if you go even a hundred miles north. Ditto the Brits. The UK is small. If you want to go on vacation (as many Brits do) to a warm weather clime (Spain, south of France, etc) you HAVE to have a passport.

    US citizens, on the other hand, have a huge country with a myriad of options. Want to go to a beach? Great, we've got zillions of them? Mountains? Yea, got that, too. None of this takes a passport.

    I won't argue that Americans, by and large, should "get out more," but these cherry-picked numbers don't make that case.

    May 11, 2011 at 6:01 pm |
  161. Another comment

    I think the problem is in translation, remember that English is not his first language. My interpretation is that "straightforward" might have been a better word for him to use, and in context, I think that is what he meant when he used the word "simple". In general, we say what we mean, and we mean what we say – that's "simple". In general, we do not instantly take offense or express outrage or hostility over the slightest (or no) provocation, intended or not, imagined or not. China and the USA don't understand each other's cultures very well, but unless we talk (and risk mistakes), we never will. Incidentally, looking at long-term demographics is fascinating, and will give you pause in "writing off" the USA. Projections are that in 2100, the population of China will be just over a billion (down from 1.5 billion in 2050) and the population of the USA will be . . . ready . . . just under a billion! There will be 900,000,000 or so Americans! Taking the long view, 1) buy land, and 2) get going on nuclear power, oil will NEVER be able to support the energy needs of three times as many of us as there are now.

    May 11, 2011 at 6:02 pm |
  162. Josh

    He's not going to go on a TV show in the US and insult Americans. I wouldn't worry about it.

    May 11, 2011 at 6:02 pm |
  163. Thinkfirstyo

    "Middle America" is simple, not the entire country. That's an important distinction. The large segment of individuals who believe effective foreign policy is "Let's just take the oil from the Middle East!" is just one reason why so much of the world has a negative opinion of the U.S.

    Let's change healthcare. Oh wait, "Middle America" says no because the U.S. healthcare system is the "best" in the world. Let's improve education. Oh wait, Middle America doesn't want that either. Let's invest in alternative energy. No, "Middle America" wants to drill for oil instead.

    That provides a poignant perspective of this country. Blind patriotism and distorted religious beliefs are a dangerous combination.

    May 11, 2011 at 6:03 pm |
  164. The_Mick

    "The United States is the world's number one superpower, and the American people, they're very simple people," +++++ The ambassador is correct. We Americans know less about the rest of the world than almost anyone. And we do NOT demand of ourselves that we meet many cultural standards. The typical attitude -even of people in poor countries like Egypt- is that "Americans are high-tech, low-culture people." When I was overseas in the past, I used to defend against that point of view. But now I'm just embarrassed.

    May 11, 2011 at 6:04 pm |
  165. me

    I think it means that American's have an image of being simple people living in a complicated society with most of their money being put into many areas such as unnecessary wars and not back into its own society which in turn keeps the people simple. America is a complicated society by virtue of it's laws and a simple society by virtue of it's people being victims to the weight of the many challenges they are faced with including a robust education system that teaches them about the whole world not just theirs. The world is actually quite a good and peaceful place and most people are quite smart – so here's an idea – stop being so scared of the world give peace a chance America.

    May 11, 2011 at 6:07 pm |
  166. Hilary Cathcart

    Based on the comments so far, I would say that Americans are ignorant and uninformed and are too lazy and spoiled to do anything about it.

    May 11, 2011 at 6:08 pm |
  167. Skyepapa

    American's have proportionally low passport numbers because we have what is essentially fifty countries whose borders we are free to cross without ID or visas. Europe is now a little more similar than previously, but it's still hard to move around Eastern Europe without a passport. But, more interestingly, try moving from one Asian country to the next without national ID - not going to happen. To look at it another way, 30% is almost one in three, and that's over 100 million Americans that have traveled abroad. Is that really so bad?

    May 11, 2011 at 6:08 pm |
  168. marigoldberry

    Jim from Detroit

    What percentage of Chinese have traveled abroad? Not many, I'd guess, since getting an exit visa is VERY hard for Chinese citizens...ironically Americans, while not especially worldly, may be much more so than their counterparts in China.

    Its an old prejudice among the Chinese that if you are not Chinese you must be part of a simple barbarian culture who should aspire only to kowtow to the emperor and pay homage to the "central kingdom".
    May 11, 2011 at 11:30 am |


    seriously, you are so simple. you need to get out more.

    May 11, 2011 at 6:12 pm |
  169. Larry Hoover

    hate hate hate

    May 11, 2011 at 6:13 pm |
  170. IronCelt

    My ancestors came to America 300+ years ago, and I would argue that too many Americans belief in a myth that America was and is somehow pure and special. Maybe some of those New England Puritans were "pure" in their own way, but beginning with the settlement of Jamestown, our ancestors came here to make money. It was so important to have cash cropping enterprises that they imported Africans in chains to be slaves and kept their descendants in bondage for hundreds of years. Even after the Civil War, there were no civil rights for 100 years. Those who simplistically think they're special just because they're Americans are deluding themselves.

    May 11, 2011 at 6:14 pm |
  171. Jerkwater Rube

    Of course we're simple; we're a bunch of unsophisticated, jerkwater rubes who get all of our information and worldview from television rather than human interaction. Americans are wrapped head-to-toe in a deep, thick insulating cushion of arrogance and 'American-ness' ;we think that we don't need, or even WANT, anything from the rest of the world.

    May 11, 2011 at 6:15 pm |
  172. MC

    China are the ones that need to understand the rest of the world more? You mean that country that every year sends tens of thousands of its best students to other countries in Europe/North America to learn from us? You're totally right, they aren't doing enough, compared to Americans who can't point out where half the countries are on a map.
    Being an Englishman in the states (at a large US University no less) these were among numerous questions I received from UNIVERSITY STUDENTS;
    Is England an island? Do they speak English there? Do you live in houses?

    May 11, 2011 at 6:15 pm |
  173. Scott

    In general, you will find better educated and well traveled people in the Northeast and West Coasts, with the middle of the country being more "simple". Sadly, we are forced to carry our "country bumpkin" citizens on our backs while the rest of the country forges ahead.

    May 11, 2011 at 6:16 pm |
  174. DZ

    It's amazing how quickly people flock to any outlet which gives them an opportunity to bash the United States. One would think that the entire populations of Europe and East Asia were made up of shining beacons of sophistication and enlightenment. I've spent time in both of those regions and have seen poverty, injustice, and idiocy run as rampant there as in the US.

    I acknowledge that most Americans (US-types) believe they live in the world's greatest nation. But most Europeans I meet feel the same of their homeland and Asian nations are as xenophobic as any I've ever encountered. So what?

    Most of the posters here criticize Americans for supposedly looking down on other cultures and immediately follow the comment with a list of criticisms for the US. The US has some glaring faults but what nation doesn’t? I think we take the spotlight for criticism because we’re such a global presence right now. Maybe people similarly chastised the British in the eighteenth century or the Persians in the fifth century BC.

    When China surpasses the US in GDP and military might, the global landscape will change for better or worse. Then a new nation will be the global public enemy number one.

    May 11, 2011 at 6:16 pm |
  175. Gman

    I have found the rest of the world's anti-American bigotry to be simplistic. I see that simplistic bigotry repeated again and again on this thread. Does no one else see the irony?

    May 11, 2011 at 6:16 pm |
  176. gandoman

    There are degrees of SIMPLE!
    Simple – not complicated ... 10% of Americans.
    Simple – not aggressive ... 20% of Americans
    Simple – not bright ... 30% of Americans
    Simple – too stupid to have a real opinion; too dumb to vote or voted for George Bush once; too idiotic to make positive changes in their relationships & their lives; too ignorant to see beyond their next paycheck; too ridiculous to boycott professional sports & ridiculously stupid enough to support overpaid prima donna athletes who can be replaced in a New York minute; too head up their ass who voted for George Bush twice thus bringing the Office of the President down to their level ... 40% of Americans.
    I have rounded off these figures as one must take into consideration those Americans too drunk, too drugged out, too brain dead & too uneducated to read.

    May 11, 2011 at 6:16 pm |
  177. Liz the First

    Some Americans are not as involved as they should be in the affairs of the nation and the world. we get so wrapped up in our own personal lives and dramas that we don't pay attention to politics and other issues. some are super gullible, which explains why there are so many republicans in office. that party feeds on people's ignorance and fear to gain power over us. we need to start paying more attention or we're going to lose our democracy.

    May 11, 2011 at 6:19 pm |
  178. Marran

    Americans *are* simple, and not in a flattering way. We're easily frightened, and thus easily manipulated, we believe in silly crap like angels and hell and the concept of 'fairness', we're willfully, contentedly ignorant when it comes to *anything* beyond our borders, we think we're ranked number one at everything despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary. In this case, "simple" is just a shortened form of "simply stupid".

    May 11, 2011 at 6:20 pm |
  179. Max Pargament

    20% of Americans believe the sun revolves around the Earth ( I'd say at least 20% are EXTREMELY SIMPLE.

    Another portion (I'd assume at least 20%) consume themselves in nothing but sports/celebrity news, have no idea whats going on in the world, and have no care for anything outside themselves (politics/science/environment/etc...).

    So probably 40-50% of our nation is willfully ignorant. The only people I feel who will be offended by his 'simple' comment are the joe/jane sick packs of the US

    May 11, 2011 at 6:22 pm |
  180. George

    Secret to success in life? Move to America and work hard.

    The American people are more accepting of others than anyplace I have ever seen. A Turk living in Sweden will still be considered a Turk 30 years later. The English make class distinctions at the slightest hint of an accent. The French look down on anything but the pure French. From my travels in China they consider themselves the Middle Kingdom – below heaven but above the rest of the world. I predict the China bubble will collapse. Remember when Japan was seen to become the world's leader just about 10 or 15 years ago?

    30 years ago my family was welcomed and embraced by America without the slightest issue. I am completely and totally American... nobody adds adjectives or distinctions. This is the one place on earth where you can truly define yourself rather than being defined by others. The center of innovation, financial opportunity, and dedication to freedom and self determination. The Pax Americana has been the reality for 50 years and is the greatest boon Man has ever been given by any nation. Good lord, what would the world be like today if Russia had won the cold war? or if China truly becomes pre-eminent and manages to stay there? .

    There is only one thing to say. Thank you, my beloved adopted country. And may God Bless the United States of America.

    May 11, 2011 at 6:22 pm |
  181. Marlin

    I would guess that most Americans do not have a passport because we do not need one. We have such a diverse landscape and culture within our own borders, that we do not need to travel to a foreign nation for "vacation". Furthermore, our country is HUGE. You can drive for 3000 miles and never leave the nation. Monday, sunny beaches in Florida, thursday, hunting in the wilderness of Idaho, and finish off Saturday surfing in California. Why do I need to travel to another nation and spend 4000 dollars on a plane ticket? Better we stay here and potentially spend our money within our own borders.
    When we rae geographically compared to other nations, they are incredibly tiny and very few have the variety of landscapes that we have the good fortune to experience.

    May 11, 2011 at 6:23 pm |
  182. snookerdoodle

    "But over the years American media coverage of China has been scarce"

    Gee, I wonder why *that* could be? I think he really does think we're "simple", as in morons.

    May 11, 2011 at 6:24 pm |
  183. Rickote

    Dumb, Dumb as a Brick.

    May 11, 2011 at 6:24 pm |
  184. James Kelley

    I wouldn't take the comments personally. Though the word 'simple' can be taken in many ways, there is a kernel of truth to what is being said. Is it the whole of the American nation? No, but I think that if any of us are honest there is a certain level of ignorance about most things not American, heck even most things American.

    For example, I am a marketing professor at a well established University on the east coast and I teach International Marketing in the MBA program. One day I decided to give a simple geography quiz on the providence's of Canada. Needless to say, the only students who got most of the providence's correct, where my international students (none from Canada). Further, if you poke at their knowledge at world events, the American students have almost no knowledge, however, the international students are ripe with it. In American, for the most part, we don't infuse the 'international' in hour homes. I spent 4 years in Australia and it was not uncommon to see a 15 year old reading the news paper (and not the comics). When would you see that outside some of the metros? As an American, it is frankly embarrassing at times when you travel. I once got asked if I owned a gun, because they thought every American owned one (this was in Japan).

    All that being said, you could easily argue that most other cultures hold a level of assumptions of what it IS to be an American. The point of all of this, is that we and they could learn from each other if we and they just stopped, listened, looked and learned.

    May 11, 2011 at 6:24 pm |
  185. Philip Wagnitz

    I have lived in Asia for 17 of the last 21 years. I have heard some of the most insulting and insensitive comments from Asians. I have also heard many compliments. My general impression is that most cultures whether they are ancient or young have a certain portion of their population that could be considered simple. As for the complicated ancient Chinese culture, how many people are living outside of those thriving urban monsters? The people out there in the country are not so sophisticated. I keep hearing about the superior Asian education. I teach in Japan. I have college students who couldn't name 5 Asian countries. And forget the rest of the world. High School students are passed if they achieve a 40% score. Yes 40%. Some schools let them through with 30%. As for government released statistics, they fail to mention that mandatory education is only to the end of junior high school. So those students we consider drop outs are not even counted in the statistics. What I am saying is that being an ancient culture is no advantage to understanding the world. The leader of China is a prime example of that. By using the word simple, he showed that he was insensitive to people outside his country.

    May 11, 2011 at 6:25 pm |
  186. Marran

    Jeff is right about America being the birthplace of many technological innovations. But we're also the birthplace of rampant obesity, "truck nuts" and the *guh* Creationist Museum. For every true American genius, there are at least 100 clueless American mouth breathers. It does NOT average out.

    May 11, 2011 at 6:26 pm |
  187. Rickote

    The guy was absolutely right

    May 11, 2011 at 6:26 pm |
  188. John

    The pervasiveness of religion equates to a lack of intelligence. Americans are far more religious than most western societies, and certainly more so than the Chinese.

    May 11, 2011 at 6:26 pm |
  189. BobH

    OBSERVATION: Seems to me as a country we shot ourselves in the foot. We spend all sorts of money for educational institutions and we have a broadcast MSM system where the citizens of the country don't have an open public access cable TV channel in most communities to allow citizens to speak freely among themselves on local community interest. No wonder we don't know what is going on in the larger world. Let's face it – MSM media can't handle the many points of view in a conversation in a broadcast system – they have to pick a narrow point of view due to time limitations and the commercial interest of the to-big-to-fail media monopolies.

    May 11, 2011 at 6:27 pm |
  190. Georgia Wolf

    I see a lot of posts on here from people obviously not from the USA. And they are guilty of the exact thing they are accusing Americans of. I have traveled all over the world in the navy (Yes..that aggressive military) and have seen other cultures..Asian and European. Do I claim to know or totally understand their culture? No. Were the Americans always the most well behaved guests? No. Did we renovate clinics and orphan centers, refugee camps and other charitable physical labor (even in so called developed nations)? Yes. I have seen guests in our country behaving just as badly if not more so...all the while looking down their noses at the "simple, fat, stupid" American. How many of these visa holders from other countries have used them to actually visit America? And if our country is so horrible, why do people from other countries risk all, including their lives to come here? Are we perfect? No. Are we proud of our country, even if we don't always agree with our leaders or even each other? Yes! Our troops don't squash protests in the streets as they do in so many "cultured" countries. When someone else has a disaster, what country opens it's coffers to give aid. I'm not talking just from the government, but even the average American who is barely making ends meet go out of their way to send food, blankets, volunteer to personally go help rebuild. When our gulf coast is ravaged by hurricanes, the midwest by flooding and tornadoes, when we have earthquakes, wild fires and volcanic eruptions here, I have yet to see a single blanket, can of food, bongo buck or average shmoe come here to help us. How many european countries (besides Finland) have even entirely repaid the debts to us from WWII? So give us the same respect you want from us! If you don't like us..fine, don't come here, don't buy our goods and sure as hell don't come crying to us for aid or assistance.

    May 11, 2011 at 6:28 pm |
  191. Joe peterson

    As an educated and well traveled postman I must say the arrogance of many European and world citizenry against the US populace is greater than our own. Outside the United States many seldom take into account how the vast landscapes, beauty, wealth, and promise of this great country shapes and molds American ideas and thoughts. They see us in less than flattering ways often with a chip on their shoulder. Perhaps this in part explains why some Americans do not travel outside their borders as much. As I do not believe this is principally the case, the questions that should be asked is why do Americans stay put instead of visiting the greater world? Does America not contain within its large boarders many interesting things to do and see. How many countries in the world boast about their mountains and desert landscapes , tropical and tundra environments etc... ? Or the vast cultures and ideas that make up America? Or perhaps we might look to the roots of American history and find that Americans have typically had an isolationist vision up until WW2. Even with the change in geopolitics, many Americans still maintain a spirit of independence and separation from the world. There are many such issues not touched upon here.However many simple people are simply complaining about what they do not truly know.

    As to education well the USA is as vast and diverse in many ways one of which is her peoples.Public education up to the undergrad level is complex picture. Our populations is far from homogenous taking in people from all strata of life. attempting to educate this populace is not easy and does place the US educational system at as a whole in a disadvantage. Yet i would place the top academics(18 under) in this country against the best in the world. and unlike any other country the United States has not only most of the top Universities but many more respected institutions. Once again there is room for improvement as many factors come into play concerning the countries educational system but one should take things as a whole and not be so simple in their critic of us simple Americans...

    May 11, 2011 at 6:28 pm |
  192. Rickote

    One coworker even asked me (no sarcarm involved) that had to be a hard drive to my country (Spain) and asked how I crossed teh Panama channel. I told him what he expected: swiming of course!

    May 11, 2011 at 6:28 pm |
  193. Cedar Rapids

    'Of course, we also don't have a millenia-long history of tribalism, civil war, empirical societies and the subjugation of our citizenry'
    Thats true, the US managed to do most of that in just a couple of hundred years.

    May 11, 2011 at 6:30 pm |
  194. Rickote

    Another guy told me: Woow, you must speak Latin. Apparently he identified me as Latino ;-)

    May 11, 2011 at 6:30 pm |
  195. reACTIONary

    My wife is Chinese, and when I read the quote to her she guessed the Chinese word that the primer used. It means "naive" and she scoffed at this characterization. This is an assessment of Americans that she heard growing up over and over from her parents, relatives, teachers, etc. – in other words it is the cliched, stereotypical, unthinking, received "wisdom" of someone who does not think originally or deeply.

    May 11, 2011 at 6:32 pm |
  196. Andras


    but we just somehow managed as a nation to develop the airplane, TV, internet, computer, light bulb, phonograph, telephone, skyscraper, Radio (Tesla), X-Ray, liquid fueled rocket, microwave, video, laser, CD, Lunar Module, video game, cellphone, digital camera, GPS.

    the airplane, TV,telephone,light buld, photograph,telephone, Radio, X-ray,liquid fueld rockets, microwave, and video weren't developed in america or even by americans.

    in some cases your nation was the first to untiluze these inventions, in other cases you simply claim to have invented these.

    America is a great nation and has a great many inventions to her credit, chose those to brag :)

    May 11, 2011 at 6:32 pm |
  197. Maltheus

    Simple? Maybe. But who are the dumba$$es who keep buying our bonds? Suuuuuure, we'll pay you back someday China. ;-) In the meantime, thanks for all the neat stuff.

    May 11, 2011 at 6:32 pm |
  198. jake

    @OutOfAmerica "Of course, we also don't have a millenia-long history of tribalism, civil war, empirical societies and the subjugation of our citizenry."

    We don't, do we? We at least have a two-century history of eradicating aboriginal cultures (and that is after three centuries of colonial slaughter), Manifest Destiny, one of the bloodiest civil wars in human history, and imperial ambitions in third world countries so we can feed our insatiable and destructive appetite for natural resources. Don't try to paint others in such an unfavorable light when we are guilty of the same kinds of behavior.

    May 11, 2011 at 6:32 pm |
  199. GoHabsGo

    While it's unfair to group all into one category, it is realistic to suggest that American society is simplistic in nature. Many Americans are limited by the invovlement in consumer and celebrity cultures. And has been mentioned on this board already, American culture has transformed into the simple chase for greed, rather than a focus on complex ideas.

    May 11, 2011 at 6:33 pm |
  200. topdog

    the author, and most of you, are simple. simply retarded. as if all americans are the same....

    May 11, 2011 at 6:34 pm |
  201. Justin

    One thing that would help increase "Americans" social awareness would be to include foreign news agencies such as BBC world and Aljazeera in the public discourse. In my opinion, the media in the United States is partly to blame.

    May 11, 2011 at 6:35 pm |
  202. ffff

    China doesnt have an originial creative thought in their feeble minds. The country exists today on making shotty cheap products from their lack of creativity or foresight, as well as blatant thievery of other countries technology. China is a dirty filthy country that has a wondrful history of Human rights violations and utter chaos. Not to mention the chinese make wonderful drivers...

    May 11, 2011 at 6:36 pm |
  203. rcr4624

    America has some of the smartest people on earth. Unfortunately they also have some of the dumbest.

    May 11, 2011 at 6:38 pm |
  204. Jeepers

    I would imagine it's at least in part a reference to religion.

    May 11, 2011 at 6:39 pm |
  205. cape cod pete

    The comments here seem to be mainly from Europeans or American Ex-pats who seem to like the fact that the article agrees with their stereotypical view of americans.

    agreed on points:
    1. As you get further away from the coasts, americans get more insular. Maybe it has to do with the fact that most immigrants come to the coasts. However, how worldly isthe average Englishman as you go North?? Not very, they all remind me of teh guy in the SHaun the Sheep claymations. Same with France, Italy, Germany, etc. : Get away from teh big cities and you get hicks. You just do not want to admit it. And you have less excuse since your countries are pitifully small. It takes almost 3 24 hour days of driving to coast to coast in America, and we have decent roads.

    2. Sad to say to all the europeans on this thread: You hate hearing it, but without the US to save you not once, but twice, you would all be speaking German.

    3. Maybe we would not be half broke if we let you all starve after WWII and did not put the Marshall plan in effect. Same goes for japan. If we didnt you would be speaking russian or chinese right now.

    4. Last I checked every major eurpean country has colonized other countries and treated the people like crap. Slaves. Sure we had legal slavery on teh books till 1865, but you had defacto slavery on tea plantations,rubber plantations etc, loooong after that. I believe slavery was abolished in English colonies in 1838? maybe wrong there. go ahead and hammer me wiki people.

    5. Most of the worls's land/cultural disputes were caused by Europeans nations (england being the major culprit) arbitrarily drawing boarders on a map after they lost colonial wars. They were culturally ignorant when they spli\t up India and created pakistan, Iran/Iraq, every country in africa, the list goes on.

    6. Why does everyone in Canada have a passport?? Because its Freakin lame. Oh by the way, 90% of canadians live witrhin an hour of teh US border. citizen's of canada are here for our sports (football american too0 and lower cost of goods. Oh by the way canadians, you would not have any of what you bandy about as your national claim to fame (healthcare) fi you had to spend any money on defense. I bet russia would have stepped all over your mining and fishing rights if you did not have uncle sam to back you up.
    Never mind the current drug wars in Mexico, who wants to go to our third world neighbor to the south. You cant even drink the water. Oh sure plenty of euros travel to mexico and the caribbean. Bet you wouldnt dare without uncle sam keeping the peace. By the way you only go to the resorts. You are only there to get some sun and drinks. You ai't soaking up culture. You wouldnt even know what island you were on wiyhout looking at the skin color/language of teh guy serving you a drink.

    7. The USA is (not certain) the only country in teh world with every single biozone. From arctic to desert to tropical, we have it all. NYC is still the top tourist destination in the world. We also invented the national park (ours are filled with your citizens)we have no reason to go elsewhere.

    8. Please stop whining about teh Native americans. They, like teh aboriginees didnt even have the wheel when we showe up. It is now so fashionable to paint them as in tune with nature and noble trustees of the wilderness. Crap. Every major Native culture in the america, (by culture, I mean had cities written language etc. not plains indians) FAILED. Inca, Maya, Aztec, and so on all were brutal cultures that failed do to over population and other social issues. The white man never laid eyes on 90% of the indians that died in the americas. Germs from teh first explorers did that. Go to Plymouth Plantation and they will point out that the Wompanoags, who formed an aliance with teh Pilgrms, told teh pilgrims they would have killed them except that their numbers were depleted by disease. Sure Lord Amherst ordered blankets that were from cholera victims be given to Indians as gifts, but the indians put poop on arrows. They understood germ warfare, and would have done the same if they knew it. By the way thank the new world indians for syphilis.

    9. I live in Boston and see many Eurpeans and asians visiting and GOING TO SCHOOL here all the time. Why would you send your kids to a culturally backwards country for education? BY the way, I have traveled teh world and have never gone up to a local and made fun of their accent and asked them to say things on camera so they could send it to their friends. I see loser Euro trash and a asians doing this all the time.

    10. Germans and anyone from the middle east (you too Israelis) are the rudest people I have ever encountered in my own country. For every American who asks where MickeyD's is in Paris, there is a Euro in Boston openly sneering at America and its culture and saying how much better everything (food,wine, art etc) is better at home. This is done on front of Americans like we cannot hear. Or even better, switch to your native tongue, say something pithy and then then switch back to english. We know you were making fun of us... Hope you already finished your food, or do not need directions... short version: stop calling the kettle black

    11. Yeah your cultures are awesome, you have such low birth rates in europe and japan you will have to let in dirty little foreigners to help pay for your bloated social programs. Yet you refuse to claiming cultural dilution. We have a term for that here in stupid America: Rasicm. Minorities in America may not have a perfect place, but they are at least integrated. Go to MArseille or London and see how well integrated the citizens of their failed colonies are integrated. Bet you are sorry you gave them citizenship.

    12. Everyone keeps spouting how china owns the US. Big deal.. Call in your loans and watch your own walmart based economy collapse when teh dollar devalues and stuff made in china costs more than stuff made here. Only about 10% of chinese have ever even seen a toliet. Less in india. They have far more serious internal issues than we do. That's why China is terrified by the Arab Spring, and the US welcomes it. China is going to self destruct. They are a brutal and cruel people who lie and cheat at any chance, and now that they can, bully everyone. Remember the Beijing Olympics and the 13 year old gymnasts with doctored passports. Noody would challenge china because tehy threatened economic sanctions. If you hatet he US as the World's superpwer wait till China takes over, or Russia. We at least try to pretend about freedom etc.

    The last time I checked, nobody is emmigrating from the US still. Evryone is till trying to get here because tehy at least have a chance, however remote, of success. As far as they language thing goes, English is the world language, not american. Maybe its because they once had an empire the sun never set on...

    May 11, 2011 at 6:41 pm |
  206. jens75

    "over the years American media coverage of China has been scarce, and if there were some coverage, most of (the news reports) are lopsided , ” Haha, this, coming from a country that controls their media and won't even allow their own people onto Google. Gee, wonder why not much news comes out of there, and why we don't give a rat's a$$. and when China does release news reports, like their latest on their new stealthy fighter, they might not want to take, verbatim, a clip from the movie Top Gun and insert it into the presentation.

    "About 30% of Americans have a passport, compared to 60% in northern neighbor Canada and 75% in the UK. That's too low for such an affluent country, Bruce Bommarito..." if you were from Canada or a smaller, geographically-speaking, area like the UK, wouldn't you want to (and more likely need to) travel outside of your country? when you live in a bigazz country like the US, and have everything you could just about ever possibly want or need, the need to travel outside the US simply isn't as pressing.

    May 11, 2011 at 6:41 pm |
  207. Rolling My Eyes

    "American" – it seems ridiculous to me to read these complaints of how "simple" American's are, and really, as best as I can gather from this thread, how we are all the same "stupid", "unaware", "wearing flip flops", "speak only English", blah blah blah. Is the rest of the world under the impression that we are all the same? All white? All eat the same food, read the same books, travel to the same cities, states, countries, share the same level of education or interests, share the same political beliefs? "Americans" hail from every continent, every religion, have different histories. As a matter of fact, our "baggage" - religious and racial prejudices (of all manner), sexism, violence - came with us from other, more ancient and "respectable" cultures and civilizations. Perhaps I misunderstand – China has always been a peaceable nation, it has a long history of respecting those who are not Chinese? Never a European war or atrocity prior to the US? Your crazy, violent, cruel history ("you" being China, Japan, Britain, Spain, etc) is what we Americans have had to work with in creating our own.

    May 11, 2011 at 6:41 pm |
  208. Elena

    Vancouver BC has a large influx of people from mainland China buying homes here, and living in a predominantly Chinese neighborhood, I often feel they are culturally insensitive to the place where they have chosen to live. There are numerous examples, from recently arrived Chinese citizens opposing the construction of a hospice next door to their million dollar condos to older, heritage-type homes constantly being torn down and replaced with identical box-type homes in their place. There are many things I appreciate about the Chinese people I meet, but when the shoe is on the other foot, they, too, need to be culturally sensitive when they venture out into the world.

    May 11, 2011 at 6:41 pm |
  209. Steve

    America may be simple but we have two things going for it: we have a government that works well–at least well enough to work better than most, and our parents raise us to be confident and independent and are therefore able to be very innovative. Of course we have many things not going for us for example being culturally "unsophisticated".

    May 11, 2011 at 6:44 pm |
  210. MAC

    Don't blame us for being ignorant when you have kept yourself isolated in total darkness for 50 years, while Europe has shared her culture and history with us forever.

    China doesn't have any problem "sharing" it's culture. In fact, it desperately wants to. They want Nobels and Oscars. It's just there's little about modern Chinese culture that has any widespread appeal elsewhere.

    May 11, 2011 at 6:45 pm |
  211. Sae Jin

    Sorry to inform you, VP Wang, but no culture is simple. Individuals within cultures may be simple, but en toto a culture is certainly not simple. To think it is simple is simplistic thinking.

    May 11, 2011 at 6:46 pm |
  212. Alan tarkenton

    America reminds me of that friend we have all had at one point o r another whom always seemed to be meddling. Meddling in other peoples relationships, affairs, and on and on. Finally you have to tell that friend 'look I understand that you think you are doing the right thing but for god sake man back off!'

    May 11, 2011 at 6:48 pm |
  213. Leeroy

    Huh??? What that Lucy mean by that big city werd pachnokial??? Yep.

    May 11, 2011 at 6:48 pm |
  214. aizen

    americans need to travel a lot, read a lot and research more about other places on earth and not just stay in their is fine to have your own country but to be a citizen of the world, we need to know about other people, countries and culture....Simple? yes in a way that they are narrow minded and watching cnn prove me that the majority of the population live and think like illiterate people...their education system is getting destroyed like in third world countries...

    May 11, 2011 at 6:49 pm |
  215. Byrd

    I think that the very first comment on this article by zoglet pretty much said it all. Patriotism that supplants logic is nothing more than a recipe for disaster...kinda like the one we're in now.

    May 11, 2011 at 6:49 pm |
  216. B

    Typical comments from a communist premier. Isn't about time for another revolution in China?

    May 11, 2011 at 6:49 pm |
  217. Mike in NJ

    It would be great if we were more aware of our fellow humans in countries all over the world. And with more immigration (duh!), this is an organic process, at the very least. (It's one of the reasons we ARE pre-eminent in the world at large.)
    But to your example about the Groupon flub: everyone makes mistakes. I would certainly be surprised if there were not parts of every culture in the world that don't regard Americans as hip-shooting, gun-toting cowboys and slatternly young ladies with no mind but for...
    But there are also many who appreciate and love the US for many of its qualities, as there are many here who love many things about cultures different than our own.

    In any case, a bit of patience and acceptance on BOTH sides of that equation go a VERY long way.

    May 11, 2011 at 6:51 pm |
  218. Byrd

    Hello, censor boy. I was doing fine today until you showed up. No profanity or anything, but I'm more than glad to see that I'm offending your sensibilities, because you're a complete idiot.

    May 11, 2011 at 6:51 pm |
  219. Tonlok

    ScudAg56 is absoutely right...

    It's hard to learn about a culture when they have blacked out all outgoing information about them for half a century. Combine that with asian cultures that are naturally insular, and you get a collective "simple" understanding of the lives of the citizens.
    Maybe not oppress your people and allow the free flow of information to the world and we would actually care about you and your country/culture.

    May 11, 2011 at 6:52 pm |
  220. Relationaltruth

    THEY HAVE NOT BRAIN.and you do?

    May 11, 2011 at 6:53 pm |
  221. johnny

    It is easy to understand what he meant if you must REVERSE the logic and say, "The Chinese are a COMPLICATED people." Simple and complicated are antonyms, so he used "simple" to compare Americans to Chinese. These things happen when English is not your first language.

    May 11, 2011 at 6:53 pm |
  222. James


    And which country murdered thousands of peaceful protesters? Genocide committed several hundred years ago (Mainly by a pre-USA society) hardly plays into a view of Mr. Wang today.

    Charlie you persist in being the most anti-American person in the discussion and make unbased comments. The US bullies the world with its military and is a supersized NK. Which country is it threatening to burn Seoul to the ground? Which country contributes massively to foreign aid in Haiti and Japan? And pays large sums of money to Israel and Egypt to keep the piece between them?

    As an American I find your comments ignorant and dripping with baseless bias.

    May 11, 2011 at 6:53 pm |
  223. Adrian

    “...American media coverage of China has been scarce, and if there were some coverage, most of (the news reports) are lopsided,” according to Wang. Let’s not forget he is the leader of a Communist mega-nation with tightly controlled information services within its country and with revised information leaving it. Did we already forget the limited access visiting journalists were given during the Beijing Olympics? I have lived in Asia and the Chinese are not known for innuendo, they are known for their directness and blunt honesty, to a fault. If a man of Wang’s stature used the word “simple,” he meant simple, in the derogatory senses of the word as we understand it.

    May 11, 2011 at 6:54 pm |
  224. Relationaltruth

    There are many Americans who are as bright and well traveled as their Asian or European counterparts - however being those things does not necessarily make one "a better person".

    May 11, 2011 at 6:55 pm |
  225. Tony

    We've been geographically isolated from the 'old world' throughout our history which explains a lot of it. The reason Americans are less likely to be bilingual is because of that isolation – there isn't as much of an economic benefit from having many french speakers as there is in Germany, for example. This isolation has made it possible to have a worldview in which America was at the center of the world and world history. There simply wasn't much of an economic need for cultural sensitivity and international understanding in the old days.

    These days that's all changed with the advent of the internet. Americans can easily talk to people in other countries and perhaps even more importantly, people from other countries can easily read our news and watch our media and get a sense of what our worldview is. I think it needs to start with education... Americans still should be taught to be proud of their country and to have confidence, but there needs to be an emphasis on friendship with other countries and on different cultures.

    In my own experience I grew up with a view of 'american exceptionalism' which worked fine until I started having conversations with foreigners, both online and in real life. I found many aspects of the American worldview that are fine to express in the USA but that offend people overseas. But I've also found the opposite is true as well... when people encounter an American that respects their country and is interested in their culture, it tends to make them very proud. Our education needs to get us more in sync with the rest of the world without losing certain things that are uniquely American. We don't need to lose our national identity, we just need to lose some of the arrogant aspects of it. This will go a long way in making people like America and it will help us in the long term.

    May 11, 2011 at 6:56 pm |
  226. cmmrc

    "No one ever went broke underestimating the intelligence of the American public." - Henry Mencken

    May 11, 2011 at 6:56 pm |
  227. Rudi Merom

    There is no simple.......all at

    May 11, 2011 at 6:57 pm |
  228. Eryk

    Clearly, statement such as this, is a generalization. Americans are simple by choice, we have the option to "not care". If we don't know geography, it's not because it's not taught in school, it's because we won't travel anywhere outside of the US. We keep the politics simple – two choices – right or left, we make simple cars, simple machinery, and our lives are simple. Now, do you want to meet complicated Americans, well we have them here too. I think what the Chinese see in us as simple is the reality that we believe in. We think the world is either good or bad and nothing in between, alt least that is the worls we're being fed by the media. What makes the Chinese happy about our simplicity, is it's predictability – we like money, we see money in China, we go to China – that is as simple as it gets, and it gives the Chinese huge leverage over us, they play a strategic game, one that they want to win in the long term, not at the next shareholder meeting.

    May 11, 2011 at 6:58 pm |
  229. GfromCanada

    Two things:
    1. There are dumb people and smart people everywhere in the world, and I'd be willing to bet that the ratio is pretty consistent from country to country. I'd also be willing to bet that even the smartest people do dumb things from time to time, so we all need to show a bit more humility.
    2. The biggest reason 60% of Canadians have a passport now is because in the last few years the US Department of Homeland Security's Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative requires Canadians entering the United States to have a passport. Before that, Canadians could cross the border with just a drivers licence.

    May 11, 2011 at 6:58 pm |
  230. Harry Ball

    "The United States is the world's number one superpower, and the American people, they're very simple people,"

    I take it that he's seen a few tea party rallies.

    May 11, 2011 at 6:58 pm |
  231. QiangWaiRen

    There is no need to over analyze. He doesn't give a hoot about cultural ramifications. That is the CCP's standard defense against democratic ideology. "We are ancient. We are complicated. So don't preach to us about human rights or democracy."

    May 11, 2011 at 6:59 pm |
  232. Kevin

    Considering that the US is made up of peoples and cultures from all over the planet... I would think that we are anything but simple.

    May 11, 2011 at 7:00 pm |
  233. Johnjon

    Yes, Americans are simple. Most tend to see the world in black and white terms, us vs them. We don't learn other languages or about world history or cultrues. Our decisions are frequently out in the open far all to see. Simple, as in not complex or obscure.

    May 11, 2011 at 7:01 pm |
  234. sleepy

    Hee, hee- Tobin Alexander said "Premier Wang".

    May 11, 2011 at 7:02 pm |
  235. Chip

    American's are egocentric, yet its the Chinese Vice-Premier calling Americans simple? Hmmm, does anyone else see the irony in that?

    Americans have too many stereotypes, yet it is the Chinese Vice-Premier calling Americans simple? Hmmm, does anyone else see the irony in that?

    Every nation is full of stereotypes, and you cannot deny that. It's not only America! For the person/people that says America has more stereotypes, you are a hypocrit. Reading the comments above will prove that.

    Tell me this......does the average Chinese person really do more international travel than the average American? I doubt it.

    Personally, I would love to travel and see more of the world. So why don't I??? Because I am too busy working and don't have the money to spend on travel. Instead, I spend that money food and clothes for my family. Why don't I have extra money to spend on travel? Because I live in a rural area where I make 1/4 of what I could if I lived in a city (and yes, I have a 4 yr degree). But that must be because I am simple right??? America's mistake came when it decided to separate church and state. That paved the way for the almighty dollar to become the driving force of this country. It all goes down hill from there.

    Maybe Americans don't try to understand other countries/religions because Anericans are ALWAYS the bad guys. When America dishes out millions in humanitarian aide, we are the bad guys. When America tries to give a terorrist (the one man that I don't think deserved the respect we showed him) a burial in concordance with his religion (talkin about bin Laden here in case some of you missed that), we are STILL the bad guys. Give me a break here!

    And then you have all these countries sitting back acting like they understand Americans enough to call us parochial, simple, unaccepting, stereotypical, closed-minded, just to name a few. America is so diverse that even Americans cannot claim to fully understand America.

    May 11, 2011 at 7:02 pm |
  236. Teero McSan

    Ninety percent of Americans are culturally inept, unaware of minor but significant differences in people from other areas of their own country, let alone from countries they would have to travel to, which they don't.
    I am reminded of my years in the military in Germany when American tourists asked for ice in their colas, and were dismayed when it was not available. Horror of horrors! What was striking was their comments, in some cases castigating an entire culture because they could not "have it their way!"
    The "Homogenization of America" is evident in all its wondrous strip malls, Taco Bells and bowling alleys. You can see it in the subdivisions of suburbia, from Section 8 housing to trailer parks, apartment complexes, condos and palatial estates. The American people have stripped away most cultural "challenges" and glossed over their differences (even rewriting history) so we can all "just get along." What a load of crap!
    Collectively we've come a long way, baby, but not nearly as far as other, older, and, yes, more civilized cultures in this world. The niggling thing to me is that Americans see themselves as "the best," which, of course, is as misguided as a Republican in the White House. Best at what? Making war? Making a buck? Beating the other guy down so we look better?
    While in the White House, Bill Clinton asked Americans to "think globally." Unfortunately, most Americans didn't get the message. But that's okay. Let them drive quality cars made in Germany or Japan, and give them ice for their drinks. Afterall, they are the best.

    May 11, 2011 at 7:03 pm |
  237. splishplash

    I often wonder how the rest of the world views our parochial, simplistic attitudes.

    Now I have a little better idea.

    May 11, 2011 at 7:04 pm |
  238. Walker

    What percentage of Chinese folk have passports? If they want to talk apples to apples they should make that comparison not to Canada and the UK.

    May 11, 2011 at 7:04 pm |
  239. joelc

    We're dumb getting dumber. We are becoming stupid as a people. We take no priority in education now. School budgets are being slashed to appease GOP continguents. Colleges are being defunded leading to exorbitant tuitions that most Americans cannot afford to pay. Businesses refuse to locate in this country now because of the dearth of educated people.

    May 11, 2011 at 7:06 pm |
  240. 2tired2care

    The dumbing down of America has been going on now for over 30 years. Don't believe me, take a long hard look around you. This country is in big trouble.

    May 11, 2011 at 7:07 pm |
  241. daniel

    On the one hand the "American Century" is just coming to an end, on the other hand the United States are now an equal member of the club of nations on this planet. Equal means neither being below others nor being above them – is something wrong with this?

    Only if you feel offended by someone you start to think about vice versa. And only if you treat the different cultures of this world with respect they will do the same with you. Military power is no source of respect but of fear and repulsion. What it comes down to is, that the US still have a lot to learn...

    May 11, 2011 at 7:09 pm |
  242. OnePercent

    Considering that China is a nation where the vast majority of citizens live in the same squalid conditions they did 1000 years ago this is a pretty ironic comment. If American's are so "simple" how is it that we all seem to have access to things like indoor plumbing and electricity? Hundreds of millions of Chinese don't even enjoy those primitive comforts.

    May 11, 2011 at 7:10 pm |
  243. Jony Tran

    In America, every thing government does mostly be available to the public except for the national security subjects. American people do not support corruption behavior or bribery in their business way of life. Every thing should be spelled out on the paper when they do business. American mind is logic and straight forward, but very complicated because Amirican wants to take care most of the loop holes on every subject. With all of that said, China is on the other hands. Everything is implied. Business always must include some corruption or bribery on normal every day way of life or government. They don't think business in term of fairness for both sides, but the ideal solution is always more benefit for themself. Their logic can be in two different directions just to allow them to achieve the goal wihtout consideration of good or bad. Finally, creative is not in their mind, but copying ideas or product's designs are their strong talent. Simple or comlicated, it is up to your opinion.

    May 11, 2011 at 7:10 pm |
  244. Big Red Big Brother

    Simple with high tech gadgets .

    Americans don't know even why America is called America .

    May 11, 2011 at 7:11 pm |
  245. dpurcell

    America has many problems to be true. Just look at the statistics: over 40% of Americans think the earth is <10,000 years old. More think their religion is the only correct one. We continue to address the world as if we exist in some privileged reference frame. Things only matter to us if they somehow affect “American interests”. Just look at the recent tsunami in Japan. In every story, without fail, considerable time was spent on “how this affects us”, with the horrible situation in Japan left as an afterthought almost.
    “A 30 foot tsunamie just hit Japan. In Hawaii, residents have made it to safety *insert long talk on the fantastically smart building design in Hawaii*.”
    Why can’t we move beyond pointless nationalism, why can’t we realize that we are all humans? Why can’t we be concerned about Japan, for the sake of the immense suffering caused by an earthquake, tsunami and radiation without referencing ourselves? Why can’t we learn a language, culture, history because we love to understand our fellow humans?
    It is true, that “Americans” invented much of the technology we enjoy today. But that technology was a product of the entire species, not one nation. Would we have discovered gunpowder without China? Would we have developed advanced mathematics without the Arab world? Would we have developed nuclear power without the German post graduate schools of physics Oppenheimer attended?
    Yet despite all of our shortcomings, it was we who put the pieces together to create so many technological marvels. This was made possible by our multiculturalism, not by our insularity. Nationalism is a symptom of being human, a consequence of evolution. Yet in America, an experiment has been successfully –with bumps in the road-conducted. We are not homogenous; we are representative of most cultures, races, creeds and religions. Yet we have replaced our micro egotistical tendencies with intense Nationalism that will serve only to hurt our continued progress. It is time to reject the insular, bigoted, nationalistic doctrines propagated by fly-over-US (and promoted by politicians seeking votes). We need to embrace our humanity, and reject the evolutionary baggage, that, for a time served us well, but now only weighs us down.

    May 11, 2011 at 7:13 pm |
  246. JT

    It's largely Evangelical Christians in the US who are mostly to blame for dumbing everyone down. They fight education and science since it threatens their delusions. They are the Taliban of America and work tirelessly, trying to take us back to the dark ages. There are many of us who value reason and evidence based facts but religion frowns on this.

    May 11, 2011 at 7:13 pm |
  247. Melissa

    Most Americans think that blindly promoting control by corporations is freedom. Simple is putting it lightly. Foolish is another. Childish is still yet another.

    May 11, 2011 at 7:14 pm |
  248. MakeThemEatCake

    Scott Jacobs

    I will put an American businessman up against a Chinese businessman any day of the week.

    to accomplish what? there are over 300 million people in the United States. MOST of whom are not business men. the statement describing Americans as 'simple' probably refers to Americans as a whole (not just some small segment of our population). and as a whole, we are simple. simple short term solutions to complex long term problems are the norm. and more often than not fail to solve anything. we complain that we are pushing more and more of our problems on to our future generations but do nothing NOW in an attempt to solve them.

    May 11, 2011 at 7:15 pm |
  249. NanaandDad

    Well, look at how 'well' our students have done in competition with other countries including China – we are 25th in math and 27th in science. WE ARE TOPS IN READING TATTOOS, THOUGH! And we do so well playing Mario!!

    May 11, 2011 at 7:15 pm |
  250. Rpalmer

    Reading some of the responses made me realize that the Vice Premier of China is correct, we are a simple people. Some of us can not think beyond the petty ideology of the particular political party we happen to be affliated with. This is one of the major problems facing the people of America.
    Americans do not know much about China becuase it has been a closed society to the majority of the American people. The lack of information coming from China simply reinforces the cultural bias of Americans. One writer spoke of Japan and how we do not really know the Japanese. The reality of the situation is that the Japanese people have not really been too concerned with how Americans think about them. In much the same way the Chinese Emperor ordered the burning of their fleet after exploring the Pacific Rim (including the Americas) because there was nothing there of importance. We were not Chinese, we were not important.
    We are a simple people, in every way the word can be used, in every meaning you can give it. The cultural bias flows both ways. The thought about passports is a null idea. This is a large country and most Americans have not seen all of it much less been out of the country. It simply points out the economic gap between Americans. It would be interesting to see what percentage of that 30% are considered affluent in American society

    May 11, 2011 at 7:16 pm |
  251. Pras

    I would agree that average Americans are simple and straight forward in a good sense. They are good people in general, compared to most eastern cultures. They also tend to be naive and gullible (taken for ride by politicians and corporations, which is universal, but it happens more easily here).

    May 11, 2011 at 7:16 pm |
  252. Melissa

    Most Americans think that blindly promoting control by corporations is freedom. Simple is putting it kindly.

    May 11, 2011 at 7:17 pm |
  253. Joe

    I am American and have lived in a couple countries throughout Europe for 7 years, and my American brothers...come here. It is so easy to get laid. Tell the girls your from Florida, or NYC. If your black, dress like Kanye West. Oh, and the alcohol! That is all everyone does is get drunk.

    Talk about Americans being simple, the rest of the world isn't that far off.

    May 11, 2011 at 7:17 pm |
  254. Smarter Human

    They didn't used to be, but then George Bush changed that and made being a simpleton acceptable.

    May 11, 2011 at 7:18 pm |
  255. Adam

    I like Americans.
    You may say what you will, they are the nicest people in the world.
    They sleep with their windows open.
    Their bathtubs are never dry.
    They are not grown up yet. They still believe in Santa Claus.

    They are terribly in earnest.
    But they laugh at everything…

    I like Americans.
    They give the matches free…

    I like Americans.
    They are the only men in the world, the sight of whom in their shirt-sleeves is not rumpled, embryonic and agonizing…

    I like Americans.
    They carry such pretty umbrellas.
    The Avenue de l’Opera on a rainy day is just an avenue on a rainy day.
    But Fifth Avenue on a rainy day is an old-fashioned garden under a shower…

    They are always rocking the boat.
    I like Americans.
    They either shoot the whole nickel, or give up the bones.
    You may say what you will, they are the nicest people in the world.

    May 11, 2011 at 7:19 pm |
  256. Pietarilainen

    America is made up of many nations from all over the globe and the Chinese nation is one of them.

    May 11, 2011 at 7:20 pm |
  257. LeeOates

    Simple is too nice a word. The majority of the population is ignorant, uneducated, and gullible.

    May 11, 2011 at 7:20 pm |
  258. Jeff

    Writing as an American citizen; yes, Americans are simple people. Incredibly simple people... I just wish the American public liked education as much as they say they do. Unfortunately I think Americans like money more than anything else, and I mean anything else…

    May 11, 2011 at 7:20 pm |
  259. Relationaltruth

    One last comment...

    As an American who has lived in Europe for a few years now and how has studied the culture and the history, I can say that Europe can be a somewhat xenophobic place as well. Also...I know a teacher from Berlin who says that some of his students could not even find the Mediterranean Sea on a world map. Stop making generalizations and start getting to know people on a one to one basis.

    May 11, 2011 at 7:21 pm |
  260. brendan

    personally myself I have made friends with quite a few americans, and honestly I see no difference. Maybe so in who we pay our taxes to, or what we eat, or the minor things in life. But overall our general understanding, thoughts, dislikes, way of life is exactly the same. yes, i am Canadian. However on saying that, I have travelled to many parts of the world and thought was American, until I corrected that and found that there was quite a bit of hate towards Americans. When I was recently in Las Vegas I was talking to a guy from California and he said when he toured Europe he was told from friends to travel with a Canadian emblem flag on his backpack. Quite interesting to hear and witness someone that has done that before. Apparently that happens quite a bit. I find in any country you're going to have ignorant people that you'll meet. here in Canada we have a lot of that saying that all americans are fat, overweight, retarted and so on. In the U.S. i talked to many people while in California, Vegas, NY, and majority of the people know about Canada, but many had no idea where Toronto was, thinking it was near Vancouver, and had no idea where Canada was on a map, and surprised to hear that we don't live in igloos, or that we watch the same tv shows. I don't know I do and don't agree with this article.

    May 11, 2011 at 7:21 pm |
  261. dog

    There are Americans of all kinds (that is one of the nice things about the US), but it is true that very few Americans venture beyond their borders to learn about the world. Many even fear leaving as if life outside the US were dangerous or barbarous. I think it would be beneficial for Americans to have a wider understanding of the world and to learn more than one language (most people of the world are multi-lingual). Other cultures aren't perfect either.. but it is important to have a well rounded world view if you're the world's foremost superpower.

    May 11, 2011 at 7:22 pm |
  262. jared



    May 11, 2011 at 7:22 pm |
  263. J

    If it weren't for us "simple" Americans, millions of chinese wouldn't have a job right now.

    May 11, 2011 at 7:23 pm |
  264. David

    It makes me sad to say this, but I think a lot of my fellow Americans are pretty unsophisticated. We think NASCAR is a great "sport", McDonalds is good "food", and a college education is for "liberal elitists". So yeah, the patronizing version of "simple" describes a good portion of us pretty well.

    May 11, 2011 at 7:25 pm |
  265. Michael Mallon

    "There's tens of thousands of Americans sitting in China all across the United States." – Tim Geithner
    Quotes like that lead the Chinese to think we are all simpletons.

    May 11, 2011 at 7:25 pm |
  266. Scott

    Americans can hardly be called simple. The only people who do this do not know us very well. Simple people would not dominate the world they way do. We use "simple" people to crank out the goods we demand, and at cheap prices, thus keeping them poor. Reality is so very different than the "simple" view of things put forward by the news. I would also argue that the notion of America the simpleton is a wonderful tool that we use to our advantage again and again.

    May 11, 2011 at 7:26 pm |
  267. independent thinker

    There was a recent interview of Americans on TV. They were asked various questions about their own country and other countries. These were very simple questions. I don't know if they deliberately showed only idiots answering these questions but it certainly cast a poor light on the American education system. Americans are insular (in general) and show little interest in any other country. That to me is a center-of-the-universe kind of thinking.

    May 11, 2011 at 7:26 pm |
  268. Was Buf., Now Was.

    I'm patriotic without being flag-pin-wearing, and I see absolutely nothing wrong with his description. Americans are, by and large, a simple people, not wanting to bother themselves with issues happening in places that have no direct consequence to them, whether China, Canada, or on the other side of the tracks in their own home town. If "simple" was used in a derogatory way, sure, it's bad. But if you ask most Americans, I think they'd agree with the word if it were used positively.

    May 11, 2011 at 7:27 pm |
  269. Sasha

    You want an example of simple?

    Speaking about 1.3 billion Chinese people OR 300 million American people as though they all shared one common thought process.

    I'm American, yes, but I'm about as similar to a tea party member or an inner city gangbanger or a billionaire or a Montana militiaman or a first-generation immigrant entrepreneur as I am to a Chinese national.

    Let's all collectively stop referring to what "the Chinese" think or what "the Americans" think, and start talking about everyone as though we were individuals with semi-autonomous brains.

    May 11, 2011 at 7:27 pm |
  270. George B

    While only 30% of Americans possess passports the country comparable in size to the entire EU. Travel from Vermont to Texas doesn't require a passport but the two are vastly different cultures. It's not the least bit unusual for the British to vacation in Spain which is similar in distance to New Yorkers vacationing in Miami.

    The revealing question, if you want to discuss the Vice-Premiere's comment about 'simple' Americans is this: "How many Chinese citizens possess passports?" I would be astounded if the number was more than 5%

    May 11, 2011 at 7:29 pm |
  271. Antonio666

    It is sad that most Americans see the rest of the world only as an extension of American needs and American "culture." Most Americans don't feel they need to learn a foreign language, and the statistic that a large majority don't even have a passport is certainly telling. Sarah Palin had never ventured outside North America when she was chosen as a candidate for Vice President. Is this really the kind of uninformed person we would want representing our country? Instead of demonizing President Obama's background and broad range of experience as being something "less than truly American," we should be celebrating it as a means of gaining a better understanding of the world around us and ouir place in it.

    May 11, 2011 at 7:31 pm |
  272. independent thinker

    PAUL in America, if you want to experience Chinese in America, then, yes, by all means go to Chinatown in a large city.
    But that will not allow you to experience China any more than eating American Chinese food will allow you experience food the Chinese eat. Unless of course you are going to KFC or McDonalds. hahahaha

    May 11, 2011 at 7:32 pm |
  273. WWMJD

    What would 'Merican Jesus do? Develop a worldview while drinking some simple wine with some simple carbohydrates while manning the simple univeral remote control. Simple!

    May 11, 2011 at 7:32 pm |
  274. Jack

    Considering how many people buy the conservative mantra of small government and pseudo deficit reduction while pursing an agenda of enriching the wealthy and fronting for corporate insurance, big oil and Wall Street while attacking the middle class and the poor you could say, yes, simple or gullible or ignorant. As Republicans attempt to gut health care reform with no viable alternative while fighting Wall Street regulations, consumer protections, clean air regulations and alternative energy research while deflecting public debate with flag waving attacks on women's rights and non-issues like gay marraige you would have to believe any thoughtful, informed voter would recoil from this regressive agenda. Yet the party that created the largest bugdet deficits in history, fumbled wars in Afghanistan and Iraq and left government institutions like housing, the Attorney Generals Office, Interior and Education in complete shambles still commands widespread admiration from the American public. To call them simple is charitable. More like pawns or fools.

    May 11, 2011 at 7:34 pm |
  275. JT

    It's largely Evangelical Christians in the US who are mostly to blame for dumbing everyone down. They fight education and science since it threatens their delusions. They are the Taliban of America and work tirelessly, trying to take us back to the dark ages. There are many of us who value reason and evidence based facts but religion frowns on this.

    They put greater importance in believing in talking snakes, Earth is 6000 years old, man was made from clump of dirt, etc. They work to have these crazy myths taught as fact.

    May 11, 2011 at 7:35 pm |
  276. wafflemonkey

    Americans are dumb? Quite possibly true. We gave the world more than 15 minutes of that Snooky. Seems China may be right.

    May 11, 2011 at 7:36 pm |
  277. Antonio from Italy

    We have Michelangelo, Palladio, Raffaello, and...Venezia, Firenze, Michelangelo again...and...Roma...and...and...Vivaldi, Puccini!...and...and...many wines!...and....Michelangelo, Latin and the ancient Roman Empire!...and Ferrari!...and in general we have many other picture-cards, Michelangelo too!...Wang has many picture-cards from China too. Germans? yes they have many picture-cards, the French too. The French have lots of picture-cards, to be honest, in fact they are an opponent to be feared. So, each one has his collection of picture-cards, of which he is obviously extremely proud. We – for instance – have a true big Colosseum, Mr. Berlusconi reminds it in every International Summit. He rises to his feet and says "please, remember: we have #1 Colosseum!", but then Sarkozy always upsets him by shouting that he – too – has lots of picture-cards, and not only "old rubbish". Wang is too shy, so he doesn't show his picture-cards, but he usually points at his briefcase, where we guess there must be lots of picture-cards (Chinese people are vary kind and shy).
    When such collectors meet American people, they like to show their collection of picture-cards.

    May 11, 2011 at 7:38 pm |
  278. Scott

    In response to charlie888888 I would say that the US is hardly teetering on anything. I would agree with the bully bit though. China is far more of a bully than the US is. As for the wars. They are economic non-entities to the US. The total defense budget for the US in 2010 was around 500 billion dollars. To put that into perspective that is only 1/28th of the US of GDP. It is a staggering sum of money, but not much when put into the context of a 14 trillion dollar economy. And we are more financially stable now than during many other periods of our history.

    May 11, 2011 at 7:38 pm |
  279. Fernando

    Everybody who ever spoke to people on the USA know that probably 99% of them are completely, unimaginably ignorant. And that is only natural, their "education" is meant to keep it that way. It's not really their fault that they are kept in a dark cave in a medieval country. I do hope that will change in the future. Internet can help a lot.

    May 11, 2011 at 7:40 pm |
  280. Jack

    Americans are dynamic. We have a small, but VERY well utilized population of some of the brightest people in the world (often imported, since we are near dead last at math/science in the 1st world), a good number of average global citizens, and another half of the population that are very dumb and simple people (birthers, reactionaries, neocons, creationists, science-deniers, and other such medieval types who are feeling & myth-driven in their conclusions).

    May 11, 2011 at 7:41 pm |
  281. Alex

    Seems to me that the point being made was that the average American is exceedingly simple in the parochial sense, when compared to citizens in other advanced industrialized countries where people have the ability to learn about other countries and the resources to visit them. For this reason, all those comments about "how come business does well" or "I have lived in 15 countries" are beside the point.
    The other point is that Wang was not saying that the Chinese are more sophisticated or cosmopolitan. Clearly, the average Chinese person is not (that is why it is still a developing country – most of its inhabitants are themselves still living in developing world conditions). He is simply making the point that while a good number of Americans (there are a lot of us, over 300 million) are attached to world events and have some understanding of global contexts, the average American does not. It is the average American who elects our leaders and provide opinion poll contexts (well, not quite, the poor are under-represented in both those areas), so that is the view of the world that America often projects.
    Deal with it. Don't get all defensive. Support more challenging education, and recognize that the world is becoming increasingly competitive, and simply chanting "USA,USA,USA" will not move us forward.

    May 11, 2011 at 7:41 pm |
  282. VinoBianco

    I think "simple" can mean a lot of things: We have a short history, we lack a distict culture (sorry, Texas cowboys, nation-wide obesity, and blnd patriotism are not a culture), and we are culturally insensitive. We're the teenager of the world and have yet to mature.

    May 11, 2011 at 7:42 pm |
  283. Justin Observation

    Sounds like he meant Chinese people are complicated, with lots ancient customs and traditions that each project or decision must go through. But Americans are simple, if we want something done, we just do it, if a mountain is in the way, we move it. Our history is very short, China's is very long, and most of their land and traditions have some kind of historical significance to them.

    He may envy our simpleness, we may envy their historical depth, but I see nothing wrong about having such differences.

    But I also realize that controversy equals high ratings, so take it away CNN.

    May 11, 2011 at 7:45 pm |
  284. shawn

    I had to look up parochial

    May 11, 2011 at 7:45 pm |
  285. keeth in cali

    Sad to say, but spot on.

    May 11, 2011 at 7:48 pm |
  286. Wolfhound

    Having lived in multiple countries and in multiple cultures's I have to agree that a lot (not all ) off Americans are ignorant "dumb" people that have no concept of life outside of their own country eventhough they consistantly verbalize their opnions about matters they know nothing about.
    That's why we're 17th in the world in education people !!!!!!!!!!!!

    May 11, 2011 at 7:48 pm |
  287. Wayne Parker

    There are a lot of commentors on this thread who are mistaking political views, election results or US government foreign policies they don't agree with as evidence of a lack of cultural or political sophistication on the part of Americans as compared to their countrymen. Such attitudes speak more of the writers' insecurities and arrogance than of American culture's "simples" nature.

    Europe, for all its cultural sophistication and achievements, started not one, but two, massive world wars that killed tens of millions. The nation at the heart of Europe, culturally and geographically invented mass genocide. In both of those wars, the American people (the vast majority of whom were descended from European forebears) tried very hard to avoid entaglement and were forced (no other word for it) to enter these wars only when American lives were not safe even on the high seas or within their own territories. Since then, Europe and the Europeans have learned some valuable lessons on the limits of war as an instrument of policy. However, they have not learned to dispense with their sense of cultural superiority, which is frequently manifested by continual efforts to portray Europe and its values as morally and culturally superior to all other nations with concurrent demands that European values be deemed international norms for all societies and cultures everywhere.

    Asian cultures and societies are no better nor worse. Asia's nations and cultures were historically, and remain today, hotbeds of ethnic and political tension where the prospect of very large scale and bloody conflict – regardless of any American connection – is a more real threat than in Europe. China has had growing unrest among some of its ethnic minorities due to Han Chinese arrogance. That same Han Chinese arrogance and sense of cultural superiority frightens Vietnam, the Philippines, Taiwan and South Korea. India and Pakistan glare at each other across an armed border and prepare for a military showdown, with the latter willingly supporting terrorist groups that launch attacks in India on civilian targets. In short, all of these these countries and their societies are historically older than American society with achievements dating back hundreds of years. However, despite those achievements these societies and individuals from them are NO BETTER than American society or Americans.

    I will not write that there isn't some merit in the characterization of the mass of Americans and their culture as "simple". America's culture is one that is fairly young, brash and focused on the obvious and I'll be the first to admit it. As an American who lived overseas for four years and who speaks fluent Chinese and passable Japanese, I met my share of "ugly Americans", who talked loudly, complained about everything not being American, etc. However, I also met large numbers of arrogant, narrow-minded and very parochial jerks from every other country. I noted long ago that the Brits and Irish in general were very bad about mastering Chinese language pronunciation compared to those Americans who made the effort to learn the language (That same observation confirmed by dozens of mainland Chinese and Hong Kong friends). Germans, Belgians, Netherlanders and Scandinavians were better at learning the language and getting along with locals and usually liked as a result. But even among these groups there were arrogant jerks who made racist or culturally insensitive remarks and pushed the limits on local hospitality. NO ONE liked the French, even the other Europeans, but curiously it had little to do with racist or nationalist attitudes or inability to learn the language; usually it was just the very French way of assuming everyone deferred to them culturally that set people off. And lest you think the Americans and Europeans were alone in angering foreigners in their own country, the average Chinese tourist drove their hosts in Japan, Korea, Vietnam, the Philippines and even in Hong Kong crazy with their uncouth and rustic behavior. And there are no shortage of Japanese who once they get around large numbers of Asians who are not Japanese take on attitudes that clearly show racist nativism is not dead in Japanese society.

    In short, calling Americans and their society "simple" is really evidence that the speaker is him/herself simple. Americans are very open and straight-forward. However, that should not be taken to mean stupid or dumb or incapable of understanding how individuals or groups in other cultures may feel. Americans also understand – and in this regard they are better than their European counterparts give them credit for – that the US government's policies affect other nations and peoples, as well as Americans. Sometimes that influence is for the good and sometimes for the bad.

    May 11, 2011 at 7:49 pm |
  288. Tad Pole

    I'm not saying this to be a jerk, but ask an american to name five national leaders from other countries. The majority (by far) can't.

    May 11, 2011 at 7:49 pm |
  289. LouAz

    Take one word, simple, out of an interview with a guy that probably does not speak American (note, I did not say English) who might be on his first trip out of China, and make a whole article out of it ? Typical self important talking head nonsense !

    May 11, 2011 at 7:50 pm |
  290. Ralph

    Americans are dumb and arrogant people.

    May 11, 2011 at 7:50 pm |
  291. An American


    Man, I've read your comments on here, and it sounds like you really hate Americans and our country! That's ok, we don't want you to visit. And as much as you don't like us, you're still dependent on everything we offer to the rest of the world. Here you are, posting on CNN, a US-based news organization. Heck, I bet you're wearing blue-jeans right now...

    May 11, 2011 at 7:51 pm |
  292. Luis

    "Simple" – that we are – and I am meaning "dumb" – in a nation that preaches "equality" we don't practice what we preach. If so, why have we subordinated "America" to every race, color, and national origin? "Simple?" Heck yah! We give tax breaks and subsidies to the same companies that make us pay $4-$5/gallon for gas (sorry, but I hear the stupid bell tolling). "Simple?" – are we the same people that say it's illegal to use insider info to profit on wall streat, but it's legal to be an "ILLEGAL" alien in the country? Okay – let's call a spade a spade – not only are we "simple" in the dumb sense, but we're also "dumb" in a stupid sense. Don't take it personal, but he may be right on the money regardless of how the phrase is tranlated.

    May 11, 2011 at 7:51 pm |
  293. Mudslinger the quest to be a super-people, we have become a STUPID people! America needs to work on becoming a HOLY nation with WISE people – not over educated, perverted and immoral.

    May 11, 2011 at 7:51 pm |
  294. JT

    When you create a comment on this board that contains the word const-itution and find that it is awaiting moderation because, within it, the most horrible of words "t-i-t" (remove the dashes) exists then it becomes clear as to why we are considered simpletons.

    May 11, 2011 at 7:54 pm |
  295. Jordan

    Who cares if the Chinese think that we're simple? America has plenty of things to worry about, a potential insult from the Chinese isn't one of them.

    May 11, 2011 at 7:55 pm |
  296. Sgt. Joe

    I can certainly understand their perception if most of what they base it on is media coverage. If all I saw of America, day after day, is like the photo used for this article, I would have to come to the same conclusion. Just as we stereotype those in China from all we may see or hear in the media. Sounds like the Chinese are hearing too much from Fox News.

    May 11, 2011 at 7:55 pm |
  297. Bill Turner

    So the measure of complexity of culture is the number of passports. If 100% of Canadians have passports, if for no other reason than to come to the U.S. that would be 35 million passports. If only 30% of Americans have passports then, that would be 90 million passports. 55 million more passports in the U.S. Seems a silly way to measure cultural complexity.

    Chinese citizens cannot even use Google to research Tienanmen Square (the government crack-down on peaceful protests for American style Liberty). When the Chinese are free, truly free, then the Chinese leadership can lecture me and my fellow Americans about cultural literacy and complexity. Until then, I will take every occasion to press my political representative(s) to tell the Chinese to keep their criticism to themselves until such time as the Chinese people are truly free.

    America is "The United States of America" is singular and emphatic in expression, for better of worse, the pinnacle of civilization at this moment in the our collective world history. Every other country in the world considers itself important and, or course, it is important to them. However, if the citizens of each of them were to name the next most important country in the world after there own, which would they name. Out of the roughly 200 countries in the world virtually every one of them would name the U.S.A. in the top three. I doubt that any other country would share that ranking. That isn't simplistic thinking it is a recognition of a geopolitical, geo-economic, geo-militarily and geo-cultural fact.

    May 11, 2011 at 7:55 pm |
  298. James

    I wouldn't worry about this. China's going to take shots at the US when they can, besides, history is very important to the Chinese, they have 5 thousand years of it. we have a little over 500 years. I think that's what they take to mean by simple. They face negative media coverage cause what they do to oppress dissenting opinions in their country.

    Maybe only 30% of our nation has passports cause most people don't have money to travel or take vacations from work. I'd love to travel, I have a passport, but I have no money to throw away. Yes we're a rich country, but it doesn't mean most of us are.

    May 11, 2011 at 7:55 pm |
  299. TCM

    Well, when you look at "simple," and see dumb.....then you look at our president...kind of speaks volumes, huh? I mean through 4rd world, back alley corruption, the super power allowed the most inexperience person, with anti-American views to gain access to our White House, economy and defense systems...yeah...I can see the Chinaman's point.

    May 11, 2011 at 7:58 pm |
  300. ks

    generalizations- you're doing it right!

    May 11, 2011 at 7:59 pm |
  301. Cynthia

    I travel a great deal and have met many Americans. Most of them are very nice people; however, I have often been shocked by the lack of knowledge of other countries and cultures displayed by Americans. There is an ignorance toward other countries that is either due to lack of education, culture or travel. I am sorry to say that Americans are now stereotyped around the world as a simple (uneducated) and arrogant people.

    May 11, 2011 at 8:06 pm |
  302. Photonerd

    No, just the American media and celebrities that badly portray us.

    May 11, 2011 at 8:08 pm |
  303. Jimbo

    "Only 30% of Americans have Passports"

    Well maybe if we as a culture weren't so obsessed with work we would be given more than 10 days per year of vacation. I can barely even take 2 of those days in a row. I was lucky and got to travel in high school and college, no way I can do that now, probably won't be able to until I'm 65. What makes me more mad is that the people of this country are just happy as heck to work these hours and take pride in it, they are gulible and conditioned to feel this way. I guess I should have worked for the government.

    May 11, 2011 at 8:09 pm |
  304. trey

    only 40 percent have passports because we have no vacation time. we work our lives away in psuedo slavery and export our wealth to other nations. I haven't had a vacation in years, and if I took one i would be fired. Affluent! HA! its a fraud. Trust me, I'd love to travel abroad, i guess I'm too "affluent" to afford it.

    May 11, 2011 at 8:09 pm |
  305. Jimbo

    Awaiting moderation! Go ram a hot poker up your you know what sideways.

    May 11, 2011 at 8:10 pm |
  306. PassingThru

    I still have hope.

    May 11, 2011 at 8:14 pm |
  307. TheCheese

    Perhaps he was basing his opinion on his present experience: Geithner is simple.

    May 11, 2011 at 8:14 pm |
  308. Nat Nasci

    Of course these are generalizations which can be accurate for one person and way off for another. I wouldn't use the world simple but insular. U.S. media rarely covers foreign news except in the context of the U.S. interests. Look up any news sit under foreign news and you will see it all bout the U.S. outside of the U.S. for the most part. I have travelled the extensivley ( I'm Canadian ) and have found intelligent people who are insular not only in the U.S. but in Europe as well. I have had interesting discussions with some Europeans who have a very odd idea about what life in the U.S. is about let alone Canada as I've had in the U.S. about Europe and again Canada. Mostly the ignorance is amusing, but during the healthcare debate in the U.S. it became clear to me that ignornace is also dangerous. The amount of lies and mis-information about one of the world's best healthcare systems kept any real discussion from taking place. Simple no, simply unacceptable yes.

    May 11, 2011 at 8:15 pm |
  309. David

    Simplicity is a virtue when paired with wisdom. The Chinese are masters at manipulating and cheating others, maybe they should simplify a little bit. Maybe a little bit more Thoreau and a little less Sun Tzu would do them some good.

    May 11, 2011 at 8:19 pm |
  310. trendo in, dumb as a fence post, and thick as a brick. How else do you explain 2 terms of George Bush?

    May 11, 2011 at 8:20 pm |
  311. the_dude

    I have a hard time believing the 30% for American's with passports. I have traveled all over the world and there has never been a place where I didn't see other Americans. I've traveled all accross Asia from Macau to Vietnam and met Americans in every place. Chinese in general are very racist in their world view, especially against western countries.

    May 11, 2011 at 8:24 pm |
  312. Ciel

    If any country is "simple" and uninformed, I would say it would be the Chinese. For all their manpower, industry, and centuries of history, the Chinese people still allow themselves to be herded like cattle under their authoritarian government. Americans actually have the ability to learn about and criticize the flaws of their government. China? Not so much. Has everyone forgotten Tiananmen square so easily? I know the Chinese people have, thanks to their government's censorship of free speech.

    May 11, 2011 at 8:24 pm |
  313. Romaine

    If Americans are simple, I'll take simple. That is not to say there's no room for Americans to learn and appreciate other cultures more (this is from the perspective of an immigrant).

    May 11, 2011 at 8:24 pm |
  314. Max

    Well...we spend inordinate amounts of time watching Jersey Shore (with more spinoffs to come), American Idol, and Dancing with the Stars....

    Very few (comparitively) watch Meet the Press, McLaughlin Group, The Lehrer Report, This Week with George Stephanopolis...

    I wonder where the world gets the idea that we are simple? Kindness, tact and diplomacy probably prevented him from saying we outright ignorant

    May 11, 2011 at 8:24 pm |
  315. Tim

    simple means "mature".

    Notice how most nations that crave the attention and power that the United States gets are like spoiled little children because they aint as great as their big brother (I'm looking squarely at you China)

    You wanna be compared favorably to the US? Then start acting like you deserve to be, instead of protesting in your shrill voice about how you "demand" to be treated like equals.

    The American People are mature and secure enough in their own identity that they dont need to constantly seek validation in the eyes of others.


    May 11, 2011 at 8:25 pm |
  316. Pete H

    Since when have us Yankees cared about what the rest of the world calls us? Come on, people; thicken the skin a little! China can call us "simple," but they, nor anyone else in the world, has been able to do something as complex as keeping the U.S.A. going for as long as we have. And that's the simple truth!

    May 11, 2011 at 8:26 pm |
  317. J.

    The average person in China lives on $4,300 USD per year. It doesn't get much simpler than that.

    FYI: The Chinese own less 10% of US debt, contrary to popular opinion. (U.S. Treasury Dept) Remember: Good 'politics' is never good economics, and good economics is never good 'politics'.

    May 11, 2011 at 8:28 pm |
  318. ScottS

    Probably he meant "simple" as in "easy to understand". But I wonder: There are a great number of Americans who don't travel much – even in the USA, get their news from only one news source, who don't read much and are not taught critical thinking in school. Yes, they may in the minority, but standards have slipped so much that they are a large growing minority!

    May 11, 2011 at 8:30 pm |
  319. Rod C. Venger

    4500 years ago, China built the Great Wall. It's purpose was to keep out foreign invaders. Much of the wall is still there, though most is a crumbled mess. Today, China still builds walls to keep out foreign invaders. Firewalls and internet censorship intended to keep invasive thoughts and ideas out of the country. Wang would seem to want us to understand them, but not the reverse.

    May 11, 2011 at 8:30 pm |
  320. Pablo Bianchi

    It is a nice and simple country.

    May 11, 2011 at 8:31 pm |
  321. Loriel

    I am reading all of the comments posted with great interest. I find it highly amusing that everyone is so busy insulting Americans. None of you realize that you are part of the problem; the human problem. This is the problem that instead of making an attempt to understand and appreicate each other; we are instead so very busy slinging bs. You are all pathetic and nothing makes me more irritated than a bunch of Europeans slinging mud and acting like a bunch of middle school zit faced teenagers. Grow up already. America exists, we are here to stay, and the Midwesterners you some have spoken about would lay down their lives for you; give you their last dollar; the clothes off their backs and they would do this if you were a total stranger. Your insults are disgusting; sort of like the disgusting smell I had to deal with when I traveled extensively through Germany and France and had to admire the beauty and culture of those countries through the arm pit stench of the natives. Now I am slinging insults! See! It spreads!!

    May 11, 2011 at 8:31 pm |
  322. Colin

    Not sure Americans are "simple" people by nature, but most marketing and political manipulation of the American mindset, is geared toward making sure they focus less on issues or awareness and more on "things to keep them occupied" (reality TV, football, food, "happiness" and the consumption of goods). However, it is true that the education system in the U.S., fails to prepare most students for work and life, beyond entry level, if that. Of course, there are many excellent academic institutions, here in the U.S., but you need to be able to afford to go to better schools. People focus less on the important stuff, are willing to settle on a poor to so-so education and often end up in jobs, which have no future, have kids and the cycle is repeated. It is easier to keep people poor and uneducated, using nationalism as a tool, to ensure they do not grow too far from being manipulated. The United States is losing power, word wide, yet people here still live in a bubble that makes them feel like they were still in the prosperous 1950's era. Most American media outlets thrive on sensationalism and painting a "pretty picture", instead of dissecting the real issue or asking serious questions, which demand a response. For younger people, it is "cool" if you do not care, are unaware or cannot do everyday things. That is "rebellious" and that is the "freedom" to "do as you like". That is the message So, when you are being spoon fed, media and marketing, it is easy to see why one might use the label "simple". Finally, speak to a well traveled, educated and culturally aware American and you certainly would not use that label.

    May 11, 2011 at 8:37 pm |
  323. Silliness

    30% of the US having a passport vs. higher rates in Europe or other countries is a complete Red Herring. Want to know why the UK has a higher rate? Cause it is a puddle jump to France, Germany, Ireland, Sweden, Norway, Denmark, et al. For those in the US, we travel to other states the way they travel to other countrires. Silly fact.

    May 11, 2011 at 8:39 pm |
  324. harbharb

    We distrust others from across the globe because we are a nation of escapees. People came here to escape the confines of their homelands, whether those confines were physical, societal or of some other form. We're too appearance-oriented and venal because of that mistrust. We have a lot of problems because we have a lot of citizens. But we don't like the way similar problems have been solved in our homelands (which is why we left in the first place). But we're simple because we haven't been focusing on education and have been instead let religious leaders make the rules for too long. Religion needs to be given less priority in the United States because it only feeds on that insecurity.

    May 11, 2011 at 8:45 pm |
  325. zaglossus

    The amount of news devoted to foreign affairs is much smaller in the American media than in Great Britain, I can tell you that from living in both places.

    May 11, 2011 at 8:45 pm |
  326. Josh

    The problem with most Americans is a lack of humility. It's not that we are less informed than citizens of other countries, we just tend to be out spoken and vocally prove our ignorance. Citizens of other countries would rather remain quiet when they are unsure of something.

    May 11, 2011 at 8:45 pm |
  327. Graham

    Anyone else not care what China thinks? China's been around for thousands of years and have this tremendous history, and yet Americans came in and in less than 300 years we've DESTROYED China in every possible way. America is the powerhouse of the world and China puts our happy meal toys together, yep we're the simple ones.

    May 11, 2011 at 8:46 pm |
  328. MrMailman

    just a handful of white american patriots.

    May 11, 2011 at 8:46 pm |
  329. Fred Garvin

    America's view of China is understandable; we helped them against the Japanese in WWII and then they turned Commie (the bastards). Screw'em.

    May 11, 2011 at 8:46 pm |
  330. bick

    I'm an American and a Texan. First I just wanted to say that "charlie888888" needed more hugs as a child. Dude relax, you're going to have a heart-attack. :) Time to pipe in on all this. I agree America does have an image problem mostly due to our own past actions. I've been fortunate enough to have traveled over seas a few times over the years. What I found for the most part were wonderful people no matter where I traveled. However I find most people given the chance as very nice regardless where they call home.
    This belief Americans are rude and arrogant is to a degree correct but I see similar attitudes from other nations. It's who you meet. I try to judge people on actions not where their passport is from. When I first traveled up to the upper East Coast of the US I assumed I was going to meet the typical rude Yankees. I was surprised to find most though different, very polite and friendly. I have seen the same wonderful people in Canada and the EU. I have yet to travel to the Far East. I hope to someday as I expect to meet friendly people there too.
    We get accused of being narrow-minded about other cultures and to a point that's true. I think that has more to do with a lack of exposure to other ways of thinking. Most Americans haven't been overseas. It's dang expense to do so. When we do most times it's a vacation and we want to see all those places we've read about. We can't just get in our cars and drive a few hours and experience a completely different culture. We can drive to Canada but unless you know hockey well they appear just like their southern cousins just more polite. :) We can travel south into Mexico but with the present situation on the borders many are afraid to cross the border. All I'm saying is we are all a like but see things differently. Please don't judge us on reality TV. TV execs haven't had an original idea for decades.

    Go Canucks!!!

    May 11, 2011 at 8:48 pm |
  331. Tony FL

    Dumbed down simpletons in more like it.

    May 11, 2011 at 8:49 pm |
  332. DoBoy

    In a word... Yes. We can be parochial and yes, it puts us at a competitive disadvantage since problems of time and distance are being removed by high speed travel/communications (ie. internet access).

    MOST (not all) Americans do not really pay attention to what's going on elsewhere, bother to try to learn about other nations, visit other countries, become truly fluent in something other than English, etc. The problem with these behaviors is that it makes it very difficult to do meaningful/significant international partnerships (business, military, etc.) when you don't understand their values, their culture, etc. Everyone doesn't look at things the same way and failing to understand that puts us on a hole when competing with someone who does understand their partner's way of looking at things..

    May 11, 2011 at 8:52 pm |
  333. ECG

    I'm truly enjoying how many people are commenting here about how dumb Americans are while simultaneously misspelling works and bungling their grammar.

    May 11, 2011 at 8:52 pm |
  334. Pat

    Wow. It seems that the "simple" way of life and the desire to have this type of life is very evident via the protests in the Middle East right now. HMMMM?

    May 11, 2011 at 8:55 pm |
  335. gus

    Most Americans are simple – like the Palins. Shallow, loud, unsophisticated, ignorant about the rest of the world and mindful only of money and profit-making.

    May 11, 2011 at 8:56 pm |
  336. PTM


    @ out of America
    But America does have a 300 year history of genocide of native americans who are the ones with millenia of history north of the Rio grande

    You're getting a bit out of hand with the genocide dude. Where are you from? Europe? Now of course they would never do anything like that right? EVERY country on the PLANET has a checkered past, but one thing is for sure, America has given much to the world, with it's inventions, financial assistance, military,and humanitarian aid as well. I've been to 22 countries and counting, and have yet to find the freedoms and just letting it all hang out that the US has. C

    May 11, 2011 at 8:58 pm |
  337. MB2821

    Simple-MINDED? now that should be the question. and of course the answer is a resounding YES!!!

    May 11, 2011 at 9:00 pm |
  338. Ethan

    Yes, americans are simple. More people vote for American Idol than vote in an election. More people can name characters on their favorite tv shows then can name any of their representatives in congress. Pathetic.

    May 11, 2011 at 9:00 pm |
  339. PTM

    I agree with your post Global Citizen. They would also take care to remember that if we hadn't defeated the Japanese in WW2, China wouldn't exist.

    May 11, 2011 at 9:00 pm |
  340. MB2821

    Of course, we also don't have a millenia-long history of tribalism, civil war, empirical societies and the subjugation of our citizenry.

    WHAT Planet ARE YOU from?!–genocide of native americans, 250+ years of chattel slavery and another near hundred years of legalized apartheid..etc, etc, READ A BOOK WOULD YOU?!!

    May 11, 2011 at 9:02 pm |
  341. Lala

    I love it when people like Hank proclaim:

    "(...)we just somehow managed as a nation to develop the airplane, TV, internet, computer, light bulb, phonograph, telephone, skyscraper, Radio (Tesla), X-Ray, liquid fueled rocket, microwave, video, laser, CD, Lunar Module, video game, cellphone, digital camera, GPS, and many other things(...)"

    Over half of these things things weren't even invented by US-Americans. You have every right to complain, but don't make stuff up.

    May 11, 2011 at 9:04 pm |
  342. capecod pete

    CNN is bunch jerks.
    here is their own policy on posting:

    CNN welcomes a lively and courteous discussion as long as you follow the Rules of Conduct set forth in our Terms of Service. Comments are not pre-screened before they post. You agree that anything you post may be used, along with your name and profile picture, in accordance with our Privacy Policy and the license you have granted pursuant to our Terms of Service.

    Yet as soon as you file a comment it says waiting for a moderator to screen it. I look at all the comments on this thread and on others and see all knds of barely masked curses and blatant racist,sexist, cruel comments. Some are no doubt from trolls. The point is I wrote a detailed comment that contained no swears etc. The worst thing I said was something was "crap". Yet the chose not to post it. It was not a tea party rant or an anti american rant or attacking anybody else on the thread. At least they could emial you a canned reason why you were shot down.

    2 can play at that game CNN. I will just censor you from my favoritres and block access to your site for all of my employees. Now I am playing unfair censor just like you. Now we are more than even. My 73 employees will not begiving you any click throughs on my dime. I guess I will have to pay for NYT or use Christian Science Monitor since FOX is just as bad as you. You would think the Press would have a vested interest in free speech, but they do not.

    By the way, teh comment section does not have a spell check or editors. You are supposed to. Try proof reading before you post stuff. You make us look like stupid americans more than anything else.
    You will censor this too I am sure. Cowards!

    May 11, 2011 at 9:05 pm |
  343. elgiblet1

    Europeans need passports... their countries are no bigger than Texas.

    Also, why would you ever want to travel outside of America? It's AWESOME here.... seriously!

    May 11, 2011 at 9:05 pm |
  344. Emilio Dumphuque

    We were on our way to being a "complex culture", but then the mass media came along and homogenized us into a single nation. Unfortunately, it also means we can be easily mislead.

    May 11, 2011 at 9:06 pm |
  345. John

    I once heard somebody tell a joke, at least I think it was a joke:

    "If you call a person who speaks three languages tri-lingual and a person who speaks two languages bi-lingual, what do you call a person who speaks one language? Answer: An American." Think about that for a moment.

    Unfortunately the U. S. is becoming an "idiocracy" and if you don't know what that means, see the movie. It's not all that far removed from the truth. Until we learn to lengthen the national attention span we will always be perceived by the rest of the world as we are perceived, and it is not in a positive light from what I see here.

    May 11, 2011 at 9:10 pm |
  346. Jon

    Yes we are simple. Simple mined fools who believe everything our leaders tell us and go to war over anything that is an inconvenience to our lives filled with bills, stress, taxes and crime. The U.S. is the greatest country on earth! LOL.

    May 11, 2011 at 9:10 pm |
  347. PTM

    Somebody give Charlie8888 a cookie or something, he's just having a bad day. Fella EVERYONE of your posts is negative. Tell you what Charlie, go do 3 tours in the Raq and get shot at EVERY single day, and then come back to the US. I GUARANTEE that everything is gravy after that, and you'll be one happy little camper. Jeez buddy, chill out.

    May 11, 2011 at 9:11 pm |
  348. AZRob

    Yes, middle class America is getting dumber...we'd rather watch reality TV than read a book

    May 11, 2011 at 9:12 pm |
  349. Ted

    Being an American and one that has actually been outside of my home country, I have to say it's frightening how little foreigners know about us. They drone on about how ignorant we are of the outside world and yet know hardly anything about us aside from the stereotypes. It's laughable really. You're no less ignorant then we are.

    May 11, 2011 at 9:13 pm |
  350. Walter

    I have an American Passport. But I live now for over 12 years in Europe, and have traveled to more than 40 countries.
    Yes! Without any doubt. Americans are some of the dumbest people I know. Its incredible.
    I will give you examples here, that most people would not believe. But they are so true.
    In a recent conversation, I made a comment that too many Americans are fat and over weight.
    And the female replied "We are not all fat. We (Americans) invented Bolemia and anorexia."
    I heard an American girl ask her friend.."Is Sweden in America?"
    I have been asked if we have Levis and tennis shoes in Germany.
    And the list goes on and on and on.
    I think a very big reason for such stupidity is because of Television.
    But the American "Simpleness" is shocking.

    May 11, 2011 at 9:14 pm |
  351. ann

    Our nation may only be 200 years old, but our people originate from many countries many of which are many many years older. Just because people moved here doesn't mean they or their descendents lost everything from their country of origin. Traditions, teachings, etc are passed down to generations. So to just say, OH your country is so young. Is silly.

    Secondly just because we are not all 100% fluent in other languages doesn't mean we don't have any understanding. Most of us choose not to use the language because a) we don't live near anyone who speaks it 100% fluent to practice with and b) we don't always feel comfortable since we aren't 100% fluent.

    As far as the Chinese go, you do not have to leave the country to learn about other cultures (although if I could afford it I would travel a bunch). My two best friends are from Hong Kong and I have learned many things about the Chinese culture through them as well as trips to the local Chinese market etc. Am I am expert? of course not, but I am not totally ignorant. To assume I and others know nothing of their culture is arrogant. We just may not share that we know these things. I very much appreciate their cuisine and have learned to make several authentic dishes.

    My best friend who is from Hong Kong married a man from Ethiopia and I never heard such racist stuff coming from her mother in my whole life prior to the marriage. I thought only the U.S. was unfortunate to have that kind of stuff going on. So the Chinese aren't all 100% perfect either.

    I also have worked closely with people from India, Ethiopia and Eritrea to name a few and have been open to learn about their cultures as well. There are many things about each culture that I like but there are also things I do not appreciate as much, however I would never stoop to say I think x or y about all people from a culture. Good grief. Every person is unique.

    So blank statements about people are arrogant, rude, and ridiculous. Americans know more than you might think. Not all of us are the same.

    May 11, 2011 at 9:15 pm |
  352. The Eternal Satyr

    Simple? What's that? Duh.

    To make a sweeping generalization like this shows a lack of intelligence; however, to his point, there are more than enough Americans who are pathologically stupid to make it seem as though America is a country literally filled to overflowing with utter idiots. To a large portion of the rest of the world, we are the laughing stock of the planet and/or worthy of ridicule for any number of less than stellar acts in our relatively short history – the Ugly American.

    I was born in America; however, I am a citizen of the world. I pledge allegiance to the world and to everyone in it and to nothing else.

    May 11, 2011 at 9:15 pm |
  353. RM

    wow, reading most of these posts, the arrogance and stupidity about cultures comes from outside the U.S. Most likely just childish envy. Good luck with the attitude.

    May 11, 2011 at 9:27 pm |
  354. Yankee

    Last time I checked..America was a continent, not a Country!

    May 11, 2011 at 9:31 pm |
  355. Rob Hannigan

    Americans are extrodinary, 5% of the worlds population but every culture that planet earth has lives right here. From the East coast to the West coast. Different religious and ideologies we are the best because we are so different. Are we simple because of what we want in life yeah. Simple because we want jobs families and homes. What is 35 percent of 311 million people. Also how many in China have passports I bet its pretty small number. An think about this of the 1.5 billion that live in China there are only 20 million cars as of 2008. America the inventor of the automobile has millions.
    Look at our form of government and how many wars we had against ourselves. Just one civil war out of 235 years and it lasted 4 of them.
    If we are ordinary then by golly ordinary is the new extrodinary. I do hope other ordinary Americans see what the Vice head of the government of China just said. Because if they want to challenge us and call us "dumb" I think they have just woken up the sleeping Giant. Another Oriental country did that once and it changed the face of the world.

    May 11, 2011 at 9:32 pm |
  356. FLG

    To charlie88888:

    You obviously have a massive chip on your shoulder regarding the US. You are entitled to your opinion, and here in the US, you actually have a legal right to it, unlike you do in China. I will even admit that some of your insults, are somewhat valid. All countries have a percentage of ignorant, hateful, and even stupid people. China is no different, and you are living proof of that statistical reality.

    By the way, I live in the Los Angles area. LA is the most diverse place in the history of the world. There are something like 224 identified languages spoken in the region. (Source: I have friends whose ancestry comes from all over the world. Just my Asian friends are Chinese, Korean, Japanese, Laotian, Cambodian, Thai, Indonesian, Hmong, Vietnamese, and Filipino. Some have been here for four generations, some have been here only a few years, and all in between. Most of my Chinese friends are from Hong Kong or Taiwan, but some are from the mainland. I particularly like the people from the mainland. One of the guys in my wedding is of Chinese ancestry. His family originally came over during the California Gold Rush. He is a conservative, a member of the NRA, and he even jokingly calls himself a Chinese Redneck (He is a medical doctor by the way).

    I am not even going to mention the number of people I grew up with from other parts of the world. I knew very few European immigrants primarily because there just aren't that many in my area. I sincerely doubt you have anywhere near the exposure to other people and cultures that I do.

    I have very high respect for Asian people in general. Guess what Charlie, the majority of them are at least fiscal conservatives and love their guns. The majority of Chinese Americans in general, vote conservative. In your mind they must have been infected by the "simple" disease, right? You are both arrogant and ignorant, an unfortunate combination.

    So, while you are busy editorializing about we moronic Americans, let's take a look at the harsh realities and ignorance of modern day China.

    Number of people executed in China every year:
    More than the entire world combined every year.

    Illegal human organ trade from executed prisoners in China:
    Don't believe me? Watch "The Body Trade" on the National Geographic Channel.

    Adoption fraud in China:
    orphanages paying for kidnapped children.

    Forced sterilizations and abortions in China:
    We actually know a Chinese woman who was sterilized against her will.,8599,1615936,00.html

    Per capita income of China:
    Interesting that Mexico has two and a half times the per capita income of China.

    Mass murder in China:
    Mao Ze-Dong is the most prolific mass murderer in history. He oversaw the genocide of up to 78 million people.

    Then there's the food:
    Tiger Penis soup anyone? How about fried rat to prevent baldness? Powdered Rhinoceros horn for a better erection?

    If you feel strongly enough to constantly point out all the negatives the US possesses, it is only fair to point out the faults your country possesses as well. China has many things going for it (primarily an almost unlimited supply of slave labor combined with total government control), but there are MANY negative realities as well. The US definitely has it's flaws, but they pale in comparison to China's.

    The argument can be settled by a simple question (because that's the way we like it here in the "Neanderthal" United States), If both China and the United States opened up their doors to unlimited immigration, which country would people flock to?

    Do I even need to answer this question?


    May 11, 2011 at 9:48 pm |
  357. americano

    One of the problems of people from United States are that they believe they are the only americans, someone wrote a comment that Columbus invaded America?, you were "invaded" by pylgrims 120 years later Columbus arrived to Caribean islands. Thats why must of peolple thinks that you are simple, and your respect is obteined with force or with dollars. But remember that other nations were stronger before and fall.

    May 11, 2011 at 9:54 pm |
  358. Danny

    I'm an American with a passport. I've even used it. My America is full of people who love and care for their neighbors, even when they disagree with them or don't look like them. It is full of devoted teachers who aren't paid enough and celebrities who are paid too much. It's full of politicians who will say anything to get elected and, more often than not, do the right thing when required. America is full of people who defy being defined. The same country that elected George W. Bush is also the same that elected Barack Obama. It is a land of contradictions. We are suspicious of the woman in a head scarf at the bus station, thanks to a warped media. We have yet to ban the wearing of that head scarf. I seriously doubt we ever will. It is a young civilization, it is true...but in name only. The cultures of Europe, of Africa, of India, of China, of Latin nations, of the Middle East...they are all present in America, (not in equal portions, it is true)...and they influence each other. They blend. They live together. They mix. They clash. They create. Simple? Hardly.

    May 11, 2011 at 9:54 pm |
  359. K.

    That Americans are perceived "simple" everywhere outside America is such a obvious truth, that the question confirms itself by asking. But self-reflection is the first step to self-improvement.

    May 11, 2011 at 9:58 pm |
  360. Where's the door

    Yes, America is very parochial. This is less the case on the coasts, but once you get into the interior of the US, it is stars and stripes forever; America, love it or leave it; etc. Having said that, we are not so unusual than most other countries. The problem is we continue to use our waning global influence through our military to spread what we believe is democracy, but is really a plutocracy.

    May 11, 2011 at 10:05 pm |
  361. julie

    The point of Chinese is that you can use euphemism to make us all think and read between the lines. I think we all knew what he meant. Though America is waking up, needing to be more aware to be more competitive, American narrow-mindedness is nothing new. People don't need to get all angry about it. Just open your mind, your ears, your hearts to other cultures. The world out there is fantastic!

    May 11, 2011 at 10:18 pm |
  362. LOLGuy

    Seeing as almost every American came from another country, I would say the US has the most complex cultured on the planet.

    Your people are our people too.

    May 11, 2011 at 10:40 pm |
  363. ThatsNotTrue:[

    WOW, Just WOW, a lot of well educated comments here, but some are still lacking in their arguments, I can rebuttle the dumb ones but it'll take me all day, and I don't want to waste that time so................. the problem with American culture is that "I'm better than you because I'm American" mentaility. Only seeing what they done instead of wha everyone's done, like David Cayman's comment with out the orientals or Asians, you wouldn't have a lot of things, America in recent years only created war. Seeing America on the world stage is like that kid in that class who keeps on yelling "look at me" or something along the lines of that while ignoring what his classmates have achieved. Although GlobalCitizen's comment's way off track, India helping others, possible but the US......the government is not trying to better them selves. And having to bring religon into this but the bible does not focus on the ten commandments as the main focus point, and the US so far is mainly christian country.
    &&& Although I think the simple comment wasn't meant to be offensive, but there are a small number of very ignorant people speaking too much in America, like the pastor who burn the koran, and that is ruining the image of Americans around the world as ignorant slobs, but I'm sure the majority is more intelligent than that. The simple problem is that the small amount of ignorants are running and speaking on behalf of America, the first dumbs down America, the second, makes the country look bad.
    &&& The anti- any country setiment isn't going to get America anywhere, the government need to learn to respect other people...... AND QUIT BORROWING SOO MUCH MONEY BEFORE THEY PAY IT OFF.

    May 11, 2011 at 10:59 pm |
  364. Jugen

    I am a Canadian who has traveled extensively in the USA, lived in Europe and spent considerable time in Asia. There is an undeniable divide in the USA where worldly, sophisticated people and simple, poorly educated people of multiple races and cultures exist. Hopefully some introspection and leadership will improve public education and increase the awareness Americans have of the broader world. Yes the world is changing with growth and influence increasing in China and India in particular but denigrating others, whether the USA, China or people of any other country is not the starting point for a better world. If we want a better world, dumping on Americans isn't the way to get there; if we want greater understanding, tolerance and respect for each other, lets offer it up first. As Gandhi has been quoted as saying, "Be the change you want to see in the world".

    May 11, 2011 at 11:23 pm |
  365. Htos1

    When I state America should be developing a free energy paradigm to eliminate fiat money,reduce the costs of living by 99.99%,and politicians and their laws and taxes,wellyou know the look I get.
    I'm not very simple.

    May 11, 2011 at 11:24 pm |
  366. Jack

    About 30% of Americans have a passport, compared to 60% in northern neighbor Canada and 75% in the UK. That's too low for such an affluent country, Bruce Bommarito, executive vice president for the U.S. Travel Association, recently told CNN.

    The world is a crappy place run by despotic dictators, communists, muslim fanatics and politically correct Socialists, why the hell would you want to travel to any of these places anyway. Yea sure they have some nice places and a different cultures to experience, but you would not want to live in most of those countries for long. I'm not one to trust a bunch of Communists who repress their own peoples freedoms while claiming to stand for human rights. I trust Communists as much as I trust Nazis, to hell with both. I've been to other places, I wasn't born in America, my family came here because AMERICA IS THE BEST COUNTRY ON EARTH. The reason is because of the founding principles that are the foundation of this country. Freedom of religion, Freedom of expression, freedom of thought and freedom of speech, all of which don't exist in China and most countries around the world. Even in Europe now you can be put in jail for speaking your mind just because it happens to offend someone. Thank GOD for America, all you haters can kiss my a$$.

    May 11, 2011 at 11:30 pm |
  367. Jeff

    All of these comments are for the most part amusing and in most cases they answer the question in a way that is uniquely "American" regardless of their individual observations.

    America and Americans have risen and will continue to rise above other nations for one reason and one reason alone.

    Wer alone as both a nation and citizens of a nation both ask if we are being surpassed and worry that we might be losing our global position to other nations. We have always since our inception worried about this. It is part of our national character. It gives us an advantage and unity of purpose that no nation currently in existence came come close to matching. No matter how old or "sophisticated" it culture.

    The innate ability for a culture and a nation like the United States to increase its effort to compete and fend off competition with no need for a national leader or campaign to that effect is not something that can be over-come by any other nation.

    Very literally the only way for a nation to surpass the United States is for the U.S. to be physically destroyed. I think it is actually very possible that the Chinese realize this salient fact and ultimately they are prepared to face that possibility.

    On the whole I find is amusing and ironic that other peoples so fundamentally misunderstand the American Character. If we are simple, which we may be, others are arrogant and that is why we continue to best them on every field of endeavor upon which we take part.

    May 11, 2011 at 11:33 pm |
  368. Bastian

    I think comparing people's capabilities from a Chinese or American point of view is certainly misplaced in this context. I am from Europe and traveled many times to the U.S. I went to school as well as worked in the United States. Often times i met Americans who were unfortunately not able to grasp America's influence on the world and other nations, in cultural as well as monetary terms. Explaining that Europeans have access to computers and that the Berlin wall has been abolished for more than 20 years can be seen as an insult. Why do we know and follow American politics, culture and decisions so rigidly, when in contrast, a majority of Americans display and show a lack of interest towards other countries and views. American average media is full with useful coverage as long as it has to do something with the country itself. Let it be internally as well as externally. As the world is changing rapidly and more countries catch up on Americas political and economic power it would be wise to teach people in public schools that Europe is not a country and Mexico not South-America. Business is becoming more and more global, and we currently can see how it is a struggle for the American economy to rely solely on the American Consumer.
    This should be seen as a mandatory right, and not a privilege which is reserved for wealthy elite ivy league candidates.

    May 11, 2011 at 11:41 pm |
  369. JB

    China is the most parochial out of any people in the whole wide world. When you think you are the center of the universe why do you need to go out? The Chinese have always felt that the world should come to them. That's what happens when you are the center of the universe. This is nothing different from Rome or America or any other super power of its day.

    May 11, 2011 at 11:47 pm |
  370. marco


    May 11, 2011 at 11:59 pm |
  371. Lala

    elgiblet1, PTM, Ted, RM, Rob Hannigan, FLG, Jack, Jeff, you're the "stupid Americans" everyone's talking about. I pity you.

    May 11, 2011 at 11:59 pm |
  372. marco


    May 12, 2011 at 12:03 am |
  373. alex65

    I do not think Wang used "simple' as an insult. A little patronizing...yes...but not insulting. With his age, in Chinese culture, he is allowed to be a little patronizing.

    The opposite of "simple" here can be "complicated"/"cynical" etc.

    American tend to treat things in black or white...and there is nothing wrong with it. You can say people are more "simple"/"principled" here.

    Chinese tend to treat things in grey...dark grey...light grey...sort of grey...and there is nothing wrong with that either. You may say people are "complicated"/"unprincipled" here.

    Just my two cents.

    May 12, 2011 at 12:46 am |
  374. Brian

    About 30% of Americans have a passport, compared to 60% in northern neighbor Canada and 75% in the UK. That's too low for such an affluent country, Bruce Bommarito, executive vice president for the U.S. Travel If US citizens needed a passport to travel to other states,then the rate would be about 90% I suspect.

    May 12, 2011 at 1:16 am |
  375. Christopher Wingo

    I am a native Californian that has been living and helping US companies sell in China since 1997. My wife of 11 years is Chinese. After a concerted effort to understand, I have a pretty good read on Chinese thinking. Premier Wang is right, we Americans are simple and, in fact, the Chinese envy that. We are simply in the sense that when I say "ok, we have a deal ... I will start tomorrow", I mean "we have a deal and I WILL start tomorrow". Or if I say "I like your product but this arrangement cannot work", again, that is exactly what I mean. We operate in a highly direct way and put value ones word.

    On the contrary, the Chinese are very COMPLICATED (complicated as the opposite of simple). Chinese operate on many levels simultaneously, most often to preserve "face". They are usually very indirect and unwilling to jut "put things on the table" for all to see and collectively resolve. Their motivations for doing or not doing things are equally complicated. So in spite of the fact the Chinese can build things quickly, their cultural ways breed tremendous inefficiency and distrust of just about everything in their society. More than one Chinese person has longed, "oh, how I wish I could be like an American". Unfortunately, their social and family ties prevent this.

    The danger for Americans dealing in or with China is that in our "simple minds" we believe what we're hearing is the way it is. Americans and American companies make easy targets for unscrupulous Chinese. Fortunately and per my own observations, Americans are finally getting smart and beginning to turn the table. Still, China newcomers need to beware ... learn what you can about China, talk to experts who've paid their dues and most importantly know that things in China are usually not what they seem.

    I expect that Premier Wang believes that China and the Chinese way are superior. This is typical when "the opponent is down" as America is with its current economic situation. Just look at the changing attitude of China towards the US over the past 10 years ... there's been a very obvious shift to condescension and defiance. If American can get its act together (e.g. come together politically, loose our sense of entitlement, reinstate habits that made us who we are, etc.) and ultimately rise above our current difficulties, and especially if China falters to a degree, you will see a little more humility from China.

    Finally, as an American I will say we do come across as arrogant on the global stage, a stage we have a very minute understanding of. You know there are 300 million Chinese in China learning English; in the US there are about 60,000 Americans learning Chinese. I think its time we Americans stop talking and start doing lest we all become "45 year old high school football stars selling used cars and reminiscing about the good 'ole days"!

    For more China comment see www. ChinaSalesInc. com.

    May 12, 2011 at 2:16 am |
  376. Lilly

    The American right has helped greatly in cultivating this image of Americans as being a simple people. They are always demanding 'plain talk' and to view educated people with distrust. Of course Americans are just as complex as any other human, but they haven't had many centuries of national development to feel at ease with their complexity.

    May 12, 2011 at 2:33 am |
  377. God bless America

    As an American I could care less what a leader of a communist coutry thinks. When I was growing up China was called Red China. THEY STILL ARE !!!! At least we have freedom, and I am not persecuted for being a Christiian like the Chinese government does.

    May 12, 2011 at 2:34 am |
  378. Ronin

    What he wants to say is Americans are a not the brightest bulb in the room and the Southerns, well most humans come out of their mothers , while Southerns are born out of their father's butt hole ...LOL

    May 12, 2011 at 2:52 am |
  379. Hmm

    We have to agree that we are all ignorant... ignorant to foreign culture regardless of number of travellers or number of passport. I think we have to start with we know ver little about ourselves too. I cannot make any statement about other country without generalization. Large part of written history has been written to succumb other people to its ruler or ruling class. To me (Korean) America and China is basically not much different. Both has brilliant cultural and political heritage but they were used to harrass other countries in the excuse of 'liberating other people' etc. For me, Super-power is nothing good because even praised medium-sized power is nightmare to neighbors and even to most of its citizens by prisoning, taxing and brainstorming and torturing innocents. We don't need any 'super' nation anymore. What we need instead is happy & free individuals without any form of patriotism/shauvinism but with small-sustainable, non-violent, freely joining organizations by ideas, which would eventually replace now obsolete concept called 'nation'. I believe that the less we find ourselves under the name of certain 'nation', the more we'll be happy. I truely believe this.

    May 12, 2011 at 3:22 am |
  380. Jay in US

    From an insiders perspective I must say that I know many very well informed, and balanced people when it comes to understanding society at large across the world. I personally have had many friends from Korea, China, and Taiwan. And do you know what they have in common?

    On some level one or the other dislikes the other. I kid you not...I knew 2 brothers from Taiwan that wanted to see China in flames. I was surprised at first but when you look at the history it makes perfect sense.

    Why do Japanese and Korean people not get along? Read the history. ^_^

    And consequently from having been to China first hand, and experienced it. I will say that there are some people I met in China that are as equally dimwitted, and closed minded as any American born Redneck and will laugh at you and call you a big nose behind your back.

    These particular individuals I speak of were Racist, Rude, and downright judgemental of anyone who isnt from their country, and there was more then a few...

    I still have friends from there, but I find that much like US citizens non-traveling chinese are just as equally closed minded as any American.

    There is no magical font of wisdom to be gained from being born elsewhere.

    Any societal advantage stems from difference of thought proccess, and level of disciplinary tolerance demanded at particular age groups. I personally am a very simple person however. I will admit that.
    As long as I am warm, fed, free of debt, and have a roof over my head I am content with life.
    The Keep it simple stupid method does have its merits. ^_^.

    May 12, 2011 at 3:33 am |
  381. Raymond Castillo

    I am a 69 year old American, born in the U.S., and have lived most of my life outside the U.S. I have lived in Europe, Asia and in Latin America. That said I think that I qualify to give an honest opinion about my country from a perspective that is both sincere and objective.
    My country is many things; it has a lot of contradictions which leads to all kinds of sentiments and judgment calls; such as being misunderstood, maligned, lambasted, reviled, ridiculed and demonized among other things. We are also praised, adored, envied, idolized, copied, lookup to, etc.
    That being said I find, like all things in life, that there is a bit of truth to all the above mentioned sentiments and judgment calls.
    Our Short Comings:
    1. We have (as national policy) supported undemocratic governments for the benefit of our multinational corporations to the detriment of the local people (an example: United Fruit Company in Central and South America, their reputation was so bad they changed the company name to United Brands Company. In 1984, Carl Linder Jr. changed United Brands into the present-day Chiquita Brands International. Remember the term “Banana Republic”, this company is the architect of this phrase, remember the dictatorial Somoza dynasty in Nicaragua? or Trujillo in the Dominican Republic? BUT WE CALL FOR FREEDOM AND LIBERTY FOR ALL PEOPLES, except when it interferes with doing business.
    2. We cried out against discrimination and persecution in other countries (Hitler’s Germany, South Africa, Russia, Etc., and rightly so) while at home we practiced it every day against Blacks, Native Americans and anyone else who didn’t look European.
    3. We tell other nations to be tolerant of other’s views and religion yet we in general have an intolerant religious right just as intolerant as the ayatollahs.
    4. Outside of the Northeast and Southern California, this country is insular, no interest in what happens outside of their immediate backyard.
    5. We are not willing to make sacrifices for the national good (read; I make millions while others are homeless, BUT DON’T RAISE MY TAXES.) The aggregate income distribution is highly concentrated towards the top, with the top 6.37% earning roughly one third (33.33%) of all income, and those with upper-middle incomes controlling a large, though declining, share of the total earned income.
    6. We are self centered.

    Our Strengths:

    1. We are a generous, compassionate, free spirited and in general positive thinking people.
    2. We are a melting pot, which means we can keep adding to our, by now, very distinct culture.
    3. We can adapt, we are creative.
    4. We are a can do people.
    Are we a simple people? As a whole yes we are. We seek simple answers to complex issues. We see FOX news (#1 in news), they have simple answers to complex issues. We seek instant gratification. Few companies make long-term investments anymore, it’s invest today collect tomorrow, that’s why we are falling behind in so many fields, others make long-term investment looking to the future.
    Most Americans do not understand the outside world and what is worst do not want to.
    If we can by some miracle leave behind us the self-centered world view, the shortsightedness, the selfishness and the hypocrisy, we can in a short period of time regain our self-esteem and preserve our position in the world as an innovator, as a country of principals, as a country that is not only listen to but that is willing to listen and engage with other nations from a position of knowledge, rectitude and confidence not merely from a position of economic and military power, which as we all are aware of will in a relatively short time end.
    To preserve our world relevance in the future we should be making economic alliances with Brazil and India and probably South Africa. But these alliances should be entered into from a position of equality, that is to say WE DO NOT NEED TO SACRIFICE OUR NATIONAL SELF INTEREST. THE AGREEMENTS SHOULD BE A WIN-WIN FOR EVERYONE CONCERNED, not like in the past where we entered into economic agreements that in the long run hurt our middleclass national interest, hurt our workers while it benefited our large corporations.
    I still have hope that a miracle can happen, hope is the last thing we should lose, but with the divisiveness propagated by the Rightwing of the Republican Party and the poor quality of qualified people to choose from to lead our country I won’t be holding my breath.

    May 12, 2011 at 3:52 am |
  382. asianobserve

    If you mean simpletons then I think your unreasonably dismissive. But then again I think the simplest answer to your question is the status of the US as the most powerful country in the world. Do you think a relatively young country as the US can achieve its current level of economic and political development without being backed up by a reasonably sophisticated population?

    May 12, 2011 at 3:52 am |
  383. YKD

    As a naturalised American I take offense to people dogging the United States all the time but then turning aound to ask for aid. Yes America has it's issues but despite being an ancient civilization Chinese people live in a country where their internet is controlled by the government. Fortunately and unfortunately Americans have not had the need to learn about other nations because such nations have had little or no effect on the daily way of life in the States (not pleasant to hear but true). That being said I have been to a lot of countries where I find individuals highly ignorant of basic global matters much less their own domestic issues. Henceforth, there really is no simple nation, collectivist societies are not in a position to judge individualistic socities because their view of others is ethnocentric. Besides can anyone explain why people from all over the world including China move to the US if they were happy with their "native" countries? Take it or leave it Americans are very intelligent people, becoming the number one nation in the world was not the hardest part of America's evolution – staying number one is more challenging and the "simple" people of the US have done that for quite a long time. Peace and love to all!

    May 12, 2011 at 3:58 am |
  384. Jason

    In Chinese they call China, Jong Gwo meaning the central country/kingdom. They mean they are the center of the world. America is known as Mei Gwo or beautiful country. They also call a foreigner a Wai Gwo Run, meaning barbarian or outside person. I much prefer the Taiwanese view of Americans where they absolutely love us and they have a good grasp on liberty and freedoms. China would still be riding bikes through the country side without American inovation and I have had a Chinese spy tell me this to my face in a corporate setting. We should be wary of the Chinese because they are excellent at using spys. We also turn a blind eye to all the spying and criminal activity they engage in so I guess in that regard we are simple.

    May 12, 2011 at 4:00 am |
  385. John

    Lot of people are just jealous of America. My wife is Chinese and grew up in China during the Cultural revolution. She loves China but hates the communist system. She'll take capitalism anytime. Chinese people often wonder how America became so strong and rich in only 200 years. Maybe you liberals should think about that. Even if it was a put down us Americans should take it and just learn more about the world around. Doesn't mean we have to accept the bad stuff.

    Also as far as hicks being stupid because they voted for Palin etc. Sad commentary on your knowledge of what Palin even meant we she said that. She didn't mean that literally. Talk about narrow mindedness look in the mirror Geez let it go just like I let it go that Obama said we had 57 States. So what he misspoke.

    Also there is not one group of people in this world that have not made war on another . Every country has done bad things and the US is no exception.

    May 12, 2011 at 4:11 am |
  386. Simple Simon says

    Simple is too polite a word to describe the Americans. 99% of comments written in the forums that touched on anything Chinese, would testify to this description of the Americans. However, there more suitable words than just simple. Like: bigoted, ignorant, uneducated, racist, self-deluded superiority, double standards and the list goes on...

    May 12, 2011 at 4:12 am |
  387. John

    Great post FLG! And that goes for all the countries in Central America and South America. They hate us, but they a great majority of them would love to come here!

    May 12, 2011 at 4:27 am |
  388. MAC

    99% of the comments on here are made in response to the assumption that he meant "stupid." He didn't. The word he used in Chinese is basically positive; it might mean in some instances that someone is too naive to deal with bad things around them, but basically it means someone is uncomplicated in a good way; trustworthy and trusting. Chinese often see us this way because, well, a lot of people in China are neither. It's true that many Chinese mistake honesty for stupidity, but I don't think that's what Wang meant. Although his "ancient culture" spiel hints at chauvinism.

    May 12, 2011 at 5:41 am |
  389. Acropolis

    The question, at the end of the article, sums it up with ingenuity :
    "What do you think – is the U.S. a parochial nation, and does it create a competitive disadvantage? Are there examples of cultural insensitivities that cost American business?"
    The pursue of wealth IS the American Dream. That's simple.

    May 12, 2011 at 5:52 am |
  390. Sammy

    Tobin Alexander
    I am American and have lived overseas in Europe,the Middle East and South Pacific. I have traveled around the world several times and i can tell you that without a doubt, and in every sense, the USA is the best country to live in. I don't think you have ever seen the real America having spent so much of your times living abroad. The real America is in between our California and New York. Try seeing the real America because i dont think you know what your talking about.70% dont have passports not because they are close minded simpltons but because they are satisfied with America and all that it has to offer.Just because you travel doesnt make you any better at understanding the world.Simple is always Smarter..I've traveled the world and wouldnt want to be anywhere except the USA.

    May 12, 2011 at 6:04 am |
  391. Bill

    Whenever this is a major calamity or catastrophe in the world, guess who shows up first? Not the Chinese. Not the Russians. Not the Saudis or the Iranians. Never the Europeans. Americans...that's who always shows up first. Start a couple of World Wars and who has to come over to make you play nice with each other? You all can rip on our simpleness, but in your hearts you are darn glad we are who we are. When things are good, you can write all the nonsense above and trash our simple ways. But when things are bad, you pray we will be there to help.

    Do we have our faults? You bet we do. But we work together to fix them. I don't see many citizens of the world trying to get into China, Russia, or Iran. Most want to get out. But people from every corner of the globe risk their lives and fortunes to get here. Some die trying. But millions each year want to come to this glorious, beautiful country. No other country is desired more than the USA.

    Am I proud to be an American even with all our faults? You bet I am. Our freedom to be individuals not reliant on the state is what I love. You can have your European cradle-to-grave nanny state that treats you like a child incapable of providing for yourself. In America the spirit of the indiviual to be all he can be is what has made this country so great for over 200 years. Ridicule us all you want. Tell us we're fat and stupid. But know we'll be there for you when you need us. We always have been and we will always be. I have nothing against any citizen of the world, but most of them would be here if they could. Simple enough for you?

    May 12, 2011 at 6:30 am |
  392. Hillman

    Just based on all of the posts here, the conclusion that I would have to draw, is that Americans are not "simple". How could there be hundreds and hundreds of conflicting viewpoints about this topic if it were so?

    May 12, 2011 at 6:35 am |
  393. joeching

    after ending the christian crusade in mideast and africa, american should be sure to remember to end the century-old asia-america war in north korea.

    May 12, 2011 at 7:35 am |
  394. clamboslice

    Both Geithner and Wang are arrogant towards Americans. Personally knowing many Chinese myself, I would call them all brainwashed misinformed by means of their indoctrination during their education. Geithner having grown up outside the USA and never having a real job in his life has no idea what Americans know or do not know. At least I can do my taxes.

    May 12, 2011 at 8:00 am |
  395. Storm Rider

    Many Europeans, Chinese and others suffer from the very problem that they ascribe to North Americans. They accuse us of ignorance due to a lack of concern or interest in their culture while baseing their so called understanding of our culture primarily on fictional movies, other entertainment mediums, "opinion news" and the critiques of usefull idiot and misguided Americans. They accept these fictions as facts because they fit negative stereotypes that they seem to need to counterbalance their jealousy of the richness of this country.

    May 12, 2011 at 8:27 am |
  396. danny

    execellent comment storm rider.

    May 12, 2011 at 9:36 am |
  397. seppe

    Stop talking down the china people,

    May 12, 2011 at 11:58 am |
  398. alex

    First of all, the fact that there are so many comments here indicates that you actually care what chinese think of you and you ARE offended. Second of all, you don't have to be a part of intelligentsia (which by the way does not exist in US) in order to make tons of money. you only have to be street smart (how many millionaires have real college education? most don't..especially those in late 1800 and early 1900s). even a parochial character can make a lot of money. Americans are simpletons because there is no such thing as aristocracy here...

    May 12, 2011 at 12:59 pm |
  399. Kam58

    Stop beating yourselves to please some other people idea of you and what you should be. There is no arguing that America is the best country to live in. That was not by accident. It was by design by the American people. We are the country and the people to be like. If you doubt your own capability you can go bury yourselves in the sands of Europe and Asia. Freedom, Democracy, Human Rights are all concepts that are simple but too complex for the unassuming Euro centric. Give me a breake. I am simple and proud of it. Nothing is complicated when you understant it.

    May 12, 2011 at 2:09 pm |
  400. Antonio from Italy

    ...not to mention the pleasure to let a Pompeian wall ruin, or to park a truck in a XV century chapel! Believe me, what a fun! (well, maybe you cannot fully understand it though). Chinese like flooding an entire region – full of archaeological finds dating back to 5-6000 years ago – in order to build a dam: guys, how sophisticated you are!'s a pity we cannot do the same (the fact is we lack empty regions, Italy is crowded like a bus lately – as regards archaeological finds, there would be no problem, obviously)...

    May 12, 2011 at 2:23 pm |
  401. John

    Simple simon where are you from? You're stupidity shows through and through to make generalizations about 311 million people like that! Do you have common sense? Do you understand your hate?

    Seppe when Chinese people stop talking down to us maybe those that talk down to you will stop also. We are all human beings and imperfect. There are good and bad in every country. My wife is Chinese so I love the Chinese people and culture, but also not only me but my wife knows there are bad Chinese just like there are plenty of bad Americans.

    May 12, 2011 at 4:08 pm |
  402. John

    Alex where are you from? So you think there is no intelligentsia? If this is so and 98% of all people here are from the rest of the world then I guess there is no intelligentsia in the rest of the world either. How old are you? 12 maybe 13? Childish post Alex. I think you need to do some more reading on what Americans have invented and done for the betterment of this world.

    May 12, 2011 at 4:15 pm |
  403. Jimbo

    Well me is darn sure dat dem China men, who's country does border my fine nation is themselves not free. I am proud to be an American, at least I know Im free. We should close the border with Mexico, den dem China men will stop entering. I is very not simple you idiotic moose head

    May 12, 2011 at 4:15 pm |
  404. Intellibronc

    He was spot on and those with an IQ in triple digits knows what he meant; for those that follow cnn we gave you a veiled insult. The dumbing down of America commenced in the '80s, took root in the '90s and now we've an absolute tool of the globalists occupying our White House. He was absolutey accurate with his 'Americans are dumb' insinuation. Wake Up Sheeple!!!

    May 12, 2011 at 4:27 pm |
  405. ToolMangler

    Alex says: "Americans are simpletons because there is no such thing as aristocracy here..."
    I say, thats what America is about. We came here to escape the 'Aristocracy' of England and Europe.
    I also found it quite interesting the "a bunch of Simpletons are the "wealthiest, strongest, least fearful and most adventurous people on Earth". The 'aristocracy' is so top heavy with wealth, that it has stifled all innovation within its own ranks...
    China, Japan and other 'oriental' countries have a history of personal worth (not monetary) that carries them from day to day. They play a game of 'mental chess' with everybody they meet. (Most non-Chinese are unaware of the game). From the moment they first engage you in conversation, they are looking for an advantage and will use it to 'maneuver' the conversation to their desired direction, (which is sucking you dry of info without giving anything in return)...
    We 'simpletons' on meeting somebody for the first time will go directly to the target of being 'equal' without dominating for the most part.

    May 12, 2011 at 4:33 pm |
  406. John

    The problems with liberals on this post is like Ronald Reagan said, "Its not that liberals don't know anything, its just that they know so much that isn't true." Raymond Castillo it is your perspective that makes you think the rightwing of the Republican party is divisive. Have you heard how divisive Obama's words are or Pelosi or Reid? Raymond Democrats want you poor so they can get your vote. They want class warfare so they get your vote. Republicans want you rich so they get your vote. Republicans know that capitalism works for people that want to work. Democrats want you to need a handout so they can take care of you. They want political power through a nanny State. What makes people free is hard work, responsibility, honesty, etc., Freedom will be lost in the Democrats world of the nanny State. 70 years ago we did not need welfare and all the other entitlements and that goes for the corporations too. Think about it? Do the Republicans or conservatives have all the right answers? Heck no. Liberals got some good points too. But to constantly blame each other for all the woes we have is not going to solve our problems. Expand your reading habits and you will see there are good points on the conservative side too. In fact you will see more than that of the liberal side! Yes people need help; no not for their whole lifetime. Entitlements do not come from a money tree they come from somebody's hard work. What happens when most of the people want a handout? The system crashes Raymond. Then how many poor people will there be and how will the government help when they have no money? Think about it Raymond. As Americans we CAN work together to solve our problems We must because if we don't we will go economically over a cliff and it will take 98% of us.

    May 12, 2011 at 4:40 pm |
  407. JohnnyOh

    Why to we pander to this communist country. Communism is a disease yet our cowards in the government won't deal with this evil government. There is no way we should have free trade with these people. It is time to cut them off and let their society spiral into chaos which should lead to a regime change. But the coward in chief Obama won't touch this with a 10ft pole.

    May 12, 2011 at 4:54 pm |
  408. AdamKWatts

    I have long been bothered by the tendency toward a provincialism (parochialism) which I believe runs rampant in the US. However, I do not look at this in comparison to Asian cultures, but to other western countries. China enforces one of the most provincial outlooks among its own people though its extreme censorship of what they allow their people to know. If you live in mainland China, you can't find out anything about the Tianeman Square massacre for example. The people are sequestered from information that is contrary to the political ideology of the government. China's problems stem in part from the fact that they have such a long and rich heritage which promotes a "we know better than any young upstart country" viewpoint. Plus, Asian cultures are historically very xenophobic in nature. I say "historically" because in many countries this attitude has lessened to a greater or lesser degree.

    The US is similar in many ways to the provincial attitude of China, and it is in part due to media focus and that fact that the public education system provides very little information about countries outside the US beyond the "lack of freedom" rampant in Europe that caused the puritans to come to the New World. That hardly paints an attractive picture to our youth for things of the "old world."

    By contrast, in Europe people generally are more aware of other countries (at least the western ones) and cultures and tend to be more respectful and tolerant of differences.

    To illustrate US provincialism, I will relate one of my favorite jokes: If you speak 3 languages you are trilingual. If you speak 2 languages you are bilingual. If you speak 1 language you are American.

    May 12, 2011 at 5:36 pm |
  409. Antonio

    Americans are simple, but we really dont give a shit.

    May 12, 2011 at 6:22 pm |
  410. Chris

    I would be curious to know what percentage of Chinese have a passport. My guess is not anywhere near 30%. The article plays right into the stereotype of the ethnocentric American, without drawing the obvious conclusion that there are more of Americans with passports than the combined total populations of Canada and the UK. By that measure, it seems to me that Americans are far more worldly than Canadians or the English.

    China is not multicultural and the Chinese have no interest in any culture but their own. Americans have opened their borders to people from all over the world – more than any other nation. America has been involved in world affairs far more than inward thinking China has. I would say the Chinese are ignorant and simple, not Americans. America rose to the top of the world in only a few centuries, whereas the Chinese have had over 5,000 years and yet there 'rich cultural history' was easily surpassed. I don't think the Chinese have any room to talk on being worldly.

    May 12, 2011 at 6:39 pm |
  411. kenneth

    Americans are idiots... Politically correct idiots...

    May 12, 2011 at 7:29 pm |
  412. Deborah

    Americans are beyond ignorant and naive. Their only interest is what's going on in their own little micro culture. Like the ant that only sees his little world of gathering food and feeding the queen and interacting with the other worker ants, Americans have little interest of venturing out of their nesting area. That is why you can have such horrendous crimes being perpetrated on society by the criminals in Washinton, and nobody has a clue! When you tell them the extent of the problem they look at you like you've got two heads. If they don't even know what's happening in their own backyard, it's small wonder they have no clue whatsoever about the rest of the world. Americans are simple alright. Simpletons. And, yes, I am an American.

    May 12, 2011 at 7:46 pm |
  413. Anon

    I lived in China for a long time, and I can't tell you how many times–probably once a day, literally–I heard people say precisely what Wang said. It is the most quintessentially Chinese perspective that I have ever heard a Chinese leader air in public. Yes, it is patronizing, but not meant as an insult. Rather, in China, it is just as a simple matter of fact. The assumption is that "we [the Chinese] understand you [the outsider, American or otherwise because they all meld together into the vast territory of "Notchina"], but you cannot possibly understand us because of our 5,000 years of rich history." When I tried, at times, to add a little bit of nuance by explaining that "our" culture spans many cultures and continents and can be traced back as far as the ancient Greeks, they weren't trying to have it, and insisted that "America" began in 1776, while "China" began in 3,000 BC. End of discussion. Make what you want of it, but that is what Wang meant. Period.

    The "simplicity" simplicity he refers to stems from the assumption that if they allow American companies to make a buck or two in China, then we will be complacent like lapdogs. Our lack of rich cultural traditions, in their mind, leads to a society in which people care only for money and nothing for nationality/country/cultural identity. And that's probably at least 50% accurate. The idea of Americans' lack of concern for the outside world (only 30% have passports) and, consequently, Geithner's response and this blogger's analysis, do not play into this at all. It has nothing to do with what Wang was getting at. That probably only confirmed Wang's theory that we have no idea what he's talking about, as a general rule.

    The appropriate response from Geithner would have been, "Actually, I don't think that Americans are a simple people at all. We are a complex melting pot of cultures and traditions, including Chinese, and our own political traditions also stretch back thousands of years. I think your statement that Americans are simple illustrates the fact that we both still have a lot to learn about each other." For heaven's sake, show some spine and stand up for your people, Timothy!!!!

    May 12, 2011 at 8:30 pm |
  414. Albert

    They are narrow-minded. They mock at other cultures. To them, if you don't eat hamburgers or hot-dogs, you are weird. They are racists, and believe Americans are superior to other human beings. They also hate other religions, especially Islam. I have seen thousands of comments where they wish to wipe out all Muslims because of a handful of terrorists. They are not willing to learn anything about the history and geography of other countries. They smile at you artificially and then back-stab you.

    May 12, 2011 at 9:08 pm |
  415. FLG

    Lala wrote:
    elgiblet1, PTM, Ted, RM, Rob Hannigan, FLG, Jack, Jeff, you're the "stupid Americans" everyone's talking about. I pity you.

    Ok Lala, I'll bite.

    While I agree that there are a few reactionary, and possibly even "simple" comments here, what specifically about my response places me in the "Stupid Americans" club, and how are you qualified to make those judgments?


    May 12, 2011 at 10:21 pm |
  416. David

    I think America is simple in a good way. That's why America is a great nation. Anyone can come here and make a decent living as long as you are willing to work hard and learn from your mistakes. America gives the world the benefit of the doubt. What other country does that? So when you say simple it's good to be simple, and we should keep it that way.

    May 13, 2011 at 9:37 am |
  417. AJ

    @ "The US is the same size as the whole of the EU.."... "Travel from Vermont to Texas doesn't require a passport but the two are vastly different cultures...."
    If you think this, or that the physical size of the US makes it as culturally diverse as Europe, the we really are dealing with seriously sheltered thinking, that may just be beyond therapy....

    May 13, 2011 at 12:02 pm |
  418. Nat Nasci

    @Bill Turner who said "So the measure of complexity of culture is the number of passports. If 100% of Canadians have passports, if for no other reason than to come to the U.S. that would be 35 million passports.

    Canadians have only had to have passports to enter the U.S. in the last few years. Stats before that still showed Canadians having a high number of passport holders. However holding a passport to me doesn't truly reflect a persons internationial intelligence as I have met "mericans in Eurpope who didn't understand that Belgium was a separate country. They just bought their tickets and were on the Europe ride.

    May 13, 2011 at 7:06 pm |
  419. Jeremy

    A few thoughts from an avid American world traveler.

    From what I have seen it is NOT only Americans who have a narrow mind. In my travels I have met countless people who had decided to be rude or not like me purely because I was an American. Often these people have never even talked with me prior to making their judgement. Can you really blame Americans not traveling when we are treated this way around the world?

    Americans do not travel as much as other countries because we are such a large country. There are several sites to see around the country and our money is not as competitive around the world so it costs us ALOT more to travel than someone in Europe. We have to fly across an ocean AND have to pay a more due to differences in currency.

    Americans also do not generally learn multiple languages. In Europe several languages can be common in the same area that takes up just one of our States. You can literally drive 2000 miles without hearing another language in America and still be in the same country. That being said places in the southwest and northeast have enough Spanish and French speakers that there is value in learning the languages.

    The biggest problem I see with the perception of American travelers in foreign countries is that alot of Americans assume that everyone speaks English and they often do not learn about the culture BEFORE they go on their trip. When a person travels they should make an attempt to learn as many customs and assimlate as much of the culture before they arrive at their destination. That goes a LONG way in generating goodwill.

    May 13, 2011 at 8:54 pm |
  420. Jeremy

    To JohnnyOh

    TBH I would not characterize China as a Communist country anymore. It is more of a totaletarian one party system with a capitalist economic structure now.

    May 13, 2011 at 9:00 pm |
  421. Smunch

    Judging by some of these responses Americans are pretty thin- skinned as well. Who cares what this dope says?

    May 13, 2011 at 10:03 pm |
  422. Bertrand Dumas

    By the way, does everyone's comment have to pass 'moderation'?

    May 14, 2011 at 2:18 pm |
  423. Bertrand Dumas

    How long does 'moderation' take?

    May 14, 2011 at 3:10 pm |
  424. Alexis Weslyn

    The standard of comments here is so much higher than most others I've seen on CNN articles! It is somewhat encouraging. Many people give clear, well presented views, whether positive or negative regarding the US or China.
    The two countries are very difficult to compare.
    I recently had a conversation with a French director of an important semi-governmental agency (French). He has been traveling frequently to China for over a decade and meets with fairly high-placed individuals. Perhaps I should note that he is nothing like the cliché of the French who automatically hate America (an untrue portrait).
    What he had to say was very interesting, and the first authoritative voice I've had the chance to hear directly and informally. As he sees it, there is a great similarity of spirit between present day China and the US, and feels there is enormous possibility that they will work more and more closely together.
    It must be admitted that, with their gigantic investments, the Chinese have an interest in a healthy, friendly America.

    May 14, 2011 at 10:11 pm |
  425. Goten

    Based on the comments of this page, I can say for sure that there are quite a few Americans out there who are "simple".

    May 16, 2011 at 9:44 am |
  426. AJ

    I must say, if we ignore a few adolescent defensive rants, there are some fine insights into the two cultures and their interaction on this thread. Makes much better reading that many of the news articles in terms of getting the the heart of matters!

    May 16, 2011 at 10:43 am |
  427. jasbir singh

    90% american is not just simple, but they are dumb too! how else can you explaing the billions of dollars paid to pakistan over the years while the whole world knew that the pakistan secret service(ISI) was doublinf all along. the terrorists are created by them and funded by them with us funds left over after the top guys have stashed their share in swiss banks and safe havens. This has been going on for donkeys years and has contributed to the us ecenomic crises-this doling out of freebies to foriegn countries.Once in a while the ISI hands out some goodies in the shape of some terrorists who are handed over to cia.ISi is like a woman who is on a honeymoon with the chinese but in between sexual bouts during recupperation calls up the husband(CIA) to say i miss you !!

    May 16, 2011 at 2:38 pm |
  428. Ronnie

    Its true....most Americans dont travel enough....They dont understand the real issues......they dont understand the cultures....I have lived outside of the country for 5 years and can see really have to understand the cultures..just because you see a few mexicans and like mexican food....does not mean you have any idea how that culture thinks.......Its the same with China, Iraq,Europe.......Theres a saying......See a person that speaks one language.....Hes from the US.....See someone who speaks two languages.....Central or South America....See smeone who speaks three or more.....Hes fron Europe or China.....IN enough, get taken advantage of enough....see how other people think......and you will see, why the US is in such great financial trouble today...Im not a Trump supporter.........but thats why he makes the statements he does......US citizens treat each other badly around the world....other cultures love our support and government money....but treat our citizens badly......but we just keep trying to buy the whole planet........and thinking we are doing somthing.......There was a time when our country needed nothing from no countries are taking checks from the US and China at the same time.....thay dont have a job shortage.....there doing well.......Ive learned....keep your head down....your mouth shut and you need to understand the culture you are working within.........

    May 16, 2011 at 10:20 pm |
  429. ThatsNotTrue:[

    Well, at least people are aware of what's happening in the US, instead of going anti communist every other post like"China bans time traveling movies" blog which was pure fiction on the blogger's part. BTW eating the food and talking to a few people of certain origin =/= knowing the history, culture, or tradition. To put it in perspective, are you going to find the great wall of China in China town? Are you going to find the leaning tower of piza (not sure how to spell it) in little Italy? Travelling costs is only a small barriar in learnin about other cultures.....but if you can't really afford it, google it? There's all sort of information online, in this tech savy age why not use it?
    &&& The people who keep on bring up the US saving China from becoming another Japan, I suggest you look at China and Japan history the grudge was well before WWII, and it was fifty years ago.........the US now wasn't in the same position it was in.
    &&& For the few China and US bashers, find something better to do, China had and is continuing to change from within, the US needs change, especially in education and corporations, ignorance will get you no where.....which also triggered some of my longest replies ever on the blogs.
    & If you are going to bash it, at least don't sound lke a troll about it, give well educated arguments, such as if I were to go off on the US, please look at the internal problems first before bothering other people.
    The education system failing, wars in three countries, church and state uniting, the middle class's fight to survive, trying to police the world, birthers, crazy wannabe politicians, natural disasters, the leader of the country campaining two years too early ect...... instead of "Down with communism"...........which, also have nothing to do with your own political affairs....which is too complex for a "simple" teenager's mind.
    & I speak from a perspective of someone who experienced both cultures......based on my background and where I'm living,, since I'm in the more peaceful nation in north America, Canada.

    May 16, 2011 at 11:57 pm |
  430. Red Cloud

    Americans may have accomplished a great deal on 'Material' aspects of the World, but as a Society, their view of the 'World' is rather too simplistic. Their view is that world ought to be a 'Orderly neighborhood' like in the US. And every social problem in the world must be "FIXED", which perhaps steps from "Corporate" thinking. Which explains why US has always "backed" the wrong guys while intervening in other countries. It is always US first, even in others territories. While this may have worked in the past, the younger generation and the generation ahead in other countries are wiping US off their 'interest'. The US no longer represents an 'aspirational' country for the younger generation in other countries. Decisions that US makes on matters of other countries are resented, specially after the Global Financial crisis. US is no longer trusted in its actions.

    May 17, 2011 at 4:58 pm |
  431. DanIAm247

    As an American who has lived oveseas as long as I have lived in the USA, I must say that most Americans have a very narrow world view. At times it was quite embarrassing to be an American after I saw quite a few Americans who were visiting other countries made absolute fools of themselves and made poor representations of our countrymen. In a globalized economy we need to be globally educated and open minded.

    May 17, 2011 at 10:46 pm |
  432. Adnan

    What Jasbir has said is totally rubbish. While people are contrubuting in this blog about American people, this idiot has turned the subject towards the politics which is ofcourse run by the learned people.

    Common Jasbir you Idiot, wake up and contribute something useful

    May 23, 2011 at 9:01 am |
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    Our Chinese language program is extremely in depth as we give every single person who enters the program a placement test. This test is designed to help us see the knowledge that you have or are lacking when it comes to learning a complex language such as Mandarin Chinese. You will then be placed into groups of 3 to 5 people and have your own Mandarin tutor. This small class size will allow you to learn the language quickly while being able to work one on one with the teacher to get the best results possible. These groups not only have mandatory language training throughout the week, but they set up social events, parties, and other types of real life situations to help you learn the language to be able to coast through these situations problem free. These real life situations help you to learn useful language that you can actually use to feel confident while living in China.

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    Our internships range from business internships to charity internships where you can do things to help out people who are less fortunate. Many people in our charity internships teach English and also help people in severe poverty. No matter what type of internship that you choose, you will be able to feel like you are making a difference in your own life by being integrated into the Chinese culture and being able to speak the language.

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