Can State of the Union address instill confidence in US?

Source:Global Times Published: 2016-1-13 21:38:01

US President Barack Obama delivered his final State of the Union address on Tuesday, in which he optimistically portrayed the country's present and future. In what is his last annual report, Obama made the most upbeat assessment of his seven years in office.

Obama stressed that the US is the "most powerful nation on earth" and its military expenditure exceeds that of the next eight nations combined. He also said whoever is claiming that the US economy is in decline is "peddling fiction."

There is much truth in Obama's words. China is willing to see such an upbeat tone adopted by the US leadership and society. We deem the US as the most powerful country now and it has not suffered absolute decline. We are glad that Obama said the US is "threatened less by evil empires and more by failing states," a somber-minded observance.

In the US, discussions about its decline have lasted for quite a while, mixed with low confidence and even pessimism. This has caused the country to harbor doubts and vigilance over China and Russia. For Americans, whatever China does seems to be arrogant and designed to challenge the US, make rules for the region and squeeze it out of Asia. The strategic suspicion has prompted the US to overly interpreted China's disputes with other claimants in the South China Sea and to read every move China makes in the waters as a signal of Beijing's intention to build hegemony.

American society will not feel so desperately insecure if it can be more optimistic and confident, and learn about China's difficulties and US advantages. It can be more at ease in dealing with China.

It is true that US influence worldwide has waned compared with its peak and its leadership has been somewhat dented. This happens not because US power is withering, but because emerging countries like China are leading the rapid changes in the world. This has prompted Obama to list the US' advantages in his address. American society has to reflect on the unhealthy logic that makes the powerful country so nervous about China's development.

In this logic, the US should be a power unrivaled that can considerably outrun other countries. While China only has an upward overall tendency but lags far behind the US in a variety of fields, the latter still fears.

Obama said "economic headwinds blow from a Chinese economy in transition." On any account, China with its more than 1 billion population will exceed the US in economic size as long as there is no subversive turbulence in the world. This will not substantively impair US power nor should it be taken as a watershed in international politics. 

Even if Obama is faking his optimism, we hope it can be turned into reality. Despite the theory of China threats or collapse, a confident US will find China actually is a true friend. It will be worth the attempt if the two could put aside the shadow of major power politics and create significant historical changes. 

Posted in: Editorial

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