How Obama Sees China

      January 27, 2011 13:18

      Jeon Byung-keun

      In his state-of-the-union address on Wednesday, U.S. President Barack Obama referred to China just four times, but China's ever-growing presence was evident between the lines. Obama mentioned China and India for the first time as America's new economic rivals, saying children in those countries are taught math and science at an early age while their governments invest in developing new technologies. As a result, Obama said, China created the world's largest privately run solar power research center and the world's fastest supercomputer.

      He said the U.S. faces its second "Sputnik moment" -- referring to the shock felt by Americans in 1957 when the Soviet Union won the race to put a satellite into orbit. He once again reminded Americans that China leads the U.S. in building high-speed rail networks and new airports and urged Americans to do their best.

      From that point on there was no more mention of China. But toward the end of his address, just after he outlined the tasks facing his country, Obama said, "But remember this -- I never suggested that change would be easy, or that I could do it alone. Democracy in a nation of 300 million people can be noisy and messy and complicated. And when you try to do big things and make big changes, it stirs passions and controversy. That's just how it is." He added that there are countries in the world that do not have such problems, where the central government controls everything. It was clear which country he was referring to. He said democracy causes chaos, debates and disappointments, but that nobody would be willing to give that up. He was greeted by a standing ovation.

      At the close of his address, Obama mentioned the American dream, which is for everyone to have an equal shot at success, regardless of background or race or social standing. "That dream is why I can stand here before you tonight. That dream is why a working-class kid from Scranton [Vice President Joseph Biden] can sit behind me. That dream is why someone who began by sweeping the floors of his father's Cincinnati bar can preside as Speaker of the House [John Boehner] in the greatest nation on earth," Obama said.

      Essentially, Obama identified the new rivals of the U.S. in the age of a world with only two superpowers, which emerged following half a century of Cold War tensions with the former Soviet Union.

      By Jeon Byung-keun from the Chosun Ilbo's News Desk

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