Washington Post is right: No one in China says ‘the moon hung larger in the US than in China’ now
Published: May 27, 2024 09:00 PM
Illustration: Liu Rui/GT

Illustration: Liu Rui/GT

The Washington Post published an article on Saturday claiming that the cachet the US once had in China no longer exists. The article argued that for decades, soft power was one of the US' most potent weapons in China. However, now Chinese people no longer say that "the moon hung larger in the US than in China." It is hard to imagine that this article comes from US media, which typically promote the "China threat theory" and "China collapse theory," making the lament seem particularly ironic.

The article suggests that Chinese individuals are now favoring the Chinese brand Luckin Coffee over Starbucks, opting for Huawei phones instead of Apple, and no one says the moon is any different when seen from the US now. 

The Washington Post attributes this change in attitude to great power competition and argues that extensive coverage of American political polarization and public safety issues by Chinese media has led to the US losing its soft power advantage in China. Unfortunately, the US media has failed to address the true underlying cause of America's diminishing appeal - the decline of its hard power.

Lü Xiang, a research fellow at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, told the Global Times that the US has lost its soft power advantage in China, which should be interpreted as the weakening of US political influence and attractiveness in China. This is due to the decline of US hard power and poor social governance.

The US has always claimed to be the "beacon of democracy," but Americans are finding it increasingly difficult to achieve their own interests through exercising democratic rights. Issues such as identity politics, social division, and wealth disparity are becoming more serious, and drug abuse has become an almost incurable problem in the US. The political polarization and poor social governance in the US have left Americans feeling hopeless, and the overall decline in social governance has made the beautifully packaged "American Dream" appear pale and powerless. A Chinese netizen commented that the US is like a beautifully packaged gift box, but when opened, it is dilapidated inside.

Li Haidong, a professor at the China Foreign Affairs University, said the US government has failed to address the demands of various ethnic groups, which has led to Americans, especially marginalized groups, feeling disillusioned with the current system and policies of the country, moving from disillusionment to despair, and eventually to silence, becoming the "silent majority." Whether it be large-scale shootings, police violence, or armed robberies in stores, these are not concocted by Chinese media, but rather the dark realities that objectively exist in the US. These are the underlying reasons for the US' declining reputation and global appeal.

According to the Global Happiness survey report released by Ipsos in 2023, China has surpassed all G7 countries to become the happiest country in the world, while the happiness of Americans has been declining for years. Factors such as gun violence, intergenerational wealth disparity, and political polarization have led to a decline in the happiness index ranking in the US. The once attractive slogan of the "American Dream" has become increasingly out of reach, with most Americans even believing that life is worse now than it was 50 years ago. The contrast between the American lifestyle portrayed in TV shows like Friends and Modern Family and the contradictions and chaos in present-day American society is stark.

A stark contrast is forming as China's soft power and hard power are both rising. Chinese new energy vehicles are conquering the global market, and Chinese shopping apps have replaced Amazon as the most popular international cross-border shopping applications. The Chinese science fiction work The Three-Body Problem has also won widespread acclaim from audiences at home and abroad. While American science fiction stories feature the idea of saving humanity, with a prominent focus on one country, the US, Chinese science fiction works focus on people from all countries coming together to save humanity, emphasizing the concept of a human community with a shared future. China is showcasing its responsibilities as a major power through its growing strength. While China is progressing, the US is rapidly declining. It is not surprising that the attractiveness of the US to the Chinese people is gone.