2011/05/10

US views on China 'simple': top official

WASHINGTON, May 10, 2011 (AFP) - A senior Chinese official on Monday described US views of his country as "simple" and said that a Middle East-style democracy uprising would not happen against Beijing.

Vice Premier Wang Qishan, in a rare foreign television interview during high-level talks in Washington, said that most US media did not cover China much and showed a bias when they did.

"It is not easy to really know China because China is an ancient civilization and we are of the Oriental culture," Wang told "The Charlie Rose Show" 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.

"If they're asked to choose to understand a foreign country, their first choice would be the European countries, and the South American countries may come second," he said.

Wang said that China's foreign ministry has frequently contacted the State Department to explain its position on protest movements.

"I don't think it is possible for events like Arab Spring to take place in China," he said.

China has rounded up dozens of writers, lawyers and other perceived critics in recent weeks amid the wave of pro-democracy uprisings in the Middle East.

It is one of China's most sweeping clampdowns on dissent since authorities in 1989 crushed student-led pro-democracy protests in Tiananmen Square.

Wang is in Washington for the two-day Strategic and Economic Dialogue with the United States.

Opening the talks on Monday, Vice President Joe Biden said that the United States had "vigorous disagreement" with China on human rights and encouraged respect for freedom of speech.

President Barack Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton also raised human rights concerns in private meetings with Wang and Chinese State Council Dai Bingguo, US officials said.

But Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, in a joint interview with Wang on "The Charlie Rose Show," said: "We have to recognize we come from different political traditions."

"As you heard the vice president and the secretary of state say today and you've heard the president say in the past, we convey our concerns on these issues as you'd expect us to do," he said.

"But our part of these discussions are about the broader economic and financial challenges facing the global economy," Geithner said.

Geithner and Wang are leading their countries' delegations for the economic track of the two-day talks, while Dai and Clinton are meeting on the political side.