Jeffrey LewisQian on Bush

Former Chinese Foreign Minister Qian Qichen has issued a scathing critique of the Bush Administration in the China Daily.

Almost amusing was State Department flack Adam Ereli fumbling questions about the article:

QUESTION: Adam, a former senior Chinese official, former Foreign Minister Qian Qichen has written a rather blistering attack on the Bush Administration’s foreign policy. While I’m aware he is not longer a foreign minister it is quite, I think, unusual for former Chinese officials to be so harshly critical in public of the U.S. Government and its policies. And I’m wondering if you have any reaction to it.

MR. ERELI: We have seen the remarks you mention. We would note first of all that former Vice Premier Qian is no longer an official of the Chinese Government. We would also note that his comments are certainly not consistent with what we heard and discussed with the Chinese Government during the Secretary’s recent visit to China. And we will be discussing the remarks further with the Chinese Government for purposes of clarification.

QUESTION: Why do you need clarification given that he’s not a Chinese official anymore?

MR. ERELI: I think just to—I mean, he is a respected figure, he is an elder statesman, and just to, I think, make crystal clear that they do not reflect the views of the Chinese Government.

QUESTION: Did you have any idea why he hauled off and whacked you guys like this?

MR. ERELI: No. I think that would be something maybe for a future discussion.

President Bush and then-Chinese Foreign Minister Qian Qichen meet in the Oval Office.