A Chinese state media perspective on US President Obama’s State of Union address. The importance of more painless bilateral ties would of course facilitate healthy economic interdependence, but the name of the game is far more than economic growth. It’s a race to see who gets to be top dog. It’s a question on how this new phase of Sino-US leadership elect to meet, or collide, in taking us forward the next few years.
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Stronger US-China economic ties would make Obama’s job easier
Source – Global Times, published February 13, 2013
As expected, US President Barack Obama’s latest State of the Union address was anchored on how to bolster the growth of the world’s largest economy, probably the biggest single defining issue of his entire presidency.
As the president’s first-term performance has already attested, putting America’s troubled fiscal, financial and economic houses in order is much easier said than done. However, by forging stronger economic ties with China in the next four years, his chance of success to fulfill his domestic promises would be boosted.
The logic here is simple and clear, for the US and China are so economically interwoven with each other that the economic wellbeing of either side would inevitably affect the other. As they are already the second-largest trading partners of each other, neither economy can remain intact while the other is in deep mess.
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While promoting growth is a priority for both nations, a strong and healthy bilateral economic relationship would make that job easier, as past decades of their economic ties have proven.
Obviously, Obama’s second-term success will largely depend on the pace of the economic growth, which has already benefited from an ever-growing trade with China.
While the US overtook the European Union to become China’s largest export market in 2012, China has been among the US’ fastest-growing export markets over the past decade and has been making constant efforts to buy more US goods. That is good news for Obama, whose trade agenda calls for doubling US exports in the next five years to create two million jobs.
According to a study of the US-China Business Council (USCBC), low-priced and good-quality imports from China have kept US consumer prices relatively low and increased American family’s purchasing power, thus shoring up the US growth in net effect.
Instead of blaming others for the high unemployment in America, some US politicians need to acknowledge the fact that a robust trade with China actually helped US job creation, a centerpiece of Obama’s State of the Union address.
The same USCBC research also showed that between 2001 and 2010, three million American jobs were created as a result of increasing US exports to China.
Moreover, China’s ongoing shift of economic growth mode and its reaffirmed pledge to further open up its market present fresh opportunities for bilateral cooperation in new areas like clean energy, also a priority on Obama’s economic agenda.
As the other beneficiary of the two-way economic ties and the biggest foreign holder of US government debt, China has a huge stake in the economic strength of the US, which is China’s biggest export market and a fast-growing destination for China’s overseas investment.
In that sense, getting the US economy back on the right track is not only the wish of Obama and his fellow Americans, but also in the interest of China and the world at large.
For years, China has been actively pursuing a stronger economic partnership with the US and remains committed to that cause. At the same time, Obama and his first administration recognized the importance of the US-China economic relationship and took steps to advance the ties.
But building a sustainable pattern of strong and healthy economic relationship between the two nations requires much more efforts.
To that end, US policymakers need to avoid various obstructions such as trade protectionism, investment xenophobia, currency warmongering and Cold War mentality which is evident in Washington’s latest decision to impose sanction on Chinese firms.
The US should also get away with the habit of blaming others for its own mistakes and act in a more responsible way to fix its financial and fiscal woes.
More importantly, Washington should take a long-term view on its economic ties with China, and stay away from the pitfall of shortchanging such an important relationship for short-term political gains.
The prosperity of the world including China and the US, beckons stronger ties between the world’s two largest economies. Therefore, building on past efforts and further advancing that relationship would be a wise choice for Obama as he presses ahead with his second-term agenda.