|Wang Qishan believes he has control of the ball...|
Paramount leader Deng Xiaoping used to say that China should "keep a low profile and never take the lead [in world affairs]".
But it seems his wise words have been shoved aside at the recent US-China Strategic and Economic Dialogue in Washington.
In a rare interview on The Charlie Rose Show, Vice-Premier Wang Qishan claimed that most American media did not cover China much and when they did, their reports were biased.
"It is not easy to really know China because China is an ancient civilization and we are of the Oriental culture," he explained to host Charlie Rose. "The United States is the world's number one superpower, and the American people, they're simple people."
That condescending tone is hardly productive but clearly indicates senior Chinese officials believe they have the upper hand in Sino-US relations and are taking the ancient imperialist view that anyone who is not Han Chinese is inferior.
Jin Canrong, vice-director of the School of International Studies at Renmin University in Beijing said he was surprised by Wang's statements.
"Wang knows diplomacy well. Such remarks might lead to a bad impact," he said. "But on the other hand, it is a reflection that Chinese officials are more confident in expressing themselves. They probably would not make such a comment several years ago."
Meanwhile foreign journalists in China must feel like they are banging their heads against the wall, trying very hard to report on the actual situation on the ground, but their editors back home are expecting more general stories or ones that don't have to go into the vagaries of Chinese bureaucracy.
There are lots of stories to tell in China, many of them dramatic and newsworthy. Illegal jailings, fake food and confiscating land to name a few. But to call Americans "simple" may have gone over the line. And with trillions of dollars at stake, senior US officials are probably desperately biting their lips to keep their Chinese guests happy...