Timothy Geithner and Wang Qishan on Charlie Rose

Following this week’s Strategic and Economic Dialogue meetings between Chinese and U.S. officials, U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner and Chinese Vice-Premier Wang Qishan talked about the current state of U.S.-China relations on Charlie Rose:

See also “The Delicate Matter of Trust in This Week’s U.S.-China Meetings” by Damien Ma in the Atlantic:

Finally, the Charlie Rose interview with Tim Geithner and Chinese Vice Premier Wang Qishan is worth watching. Wang is of course a powerful political figure in the politburo with rising political stock in China’s transition to the fifth generation of leaders. Despite his age, 63, Wang has earned a reputation of competent manager who can put out fires. And with this appearance, I believe Wang is the only other current politburo member who shares the distinction with Premier Wen Jiabao for having sat with major US media for an extended interview. Not even Li Keqiang, presumed premier-in-waiting, can claim that mantle.

One comment by Wang Qishan during the interview, in which he said Americans are “simple” (单纯)has gotten a lot of media play. From CNN’s blog:

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.”