Chinese vs American dream… who has it better?

The Wall Street Journal has an interesting new article today about whether China really is the place to be these days. True, its economy is doing better than America’s and the middle class is growing, but the WSJ’s writer found that middle class living is still not quite all it is cracked up to be in the world’s most populous nation:

“I recently spent three weeks in Beijing and Dongguan, an industrial city in the south, looking for stories about China’s economy, which is experiencing its slowest growth rate in years. I asked everyday citizens about the real estate market or the manufacturing sector, but in nearly every interview, deep concerns about the future of the country tumbled out, often unprompted.

It’s hard to get ahead these days, people kept saying, no matter how hard you work. The gap between rich and poor is widening. The education system is begging for an overhaul. The government is corrupt and needs massive reform.

This was not the country President Obama and Mitt Romney were talking about on the campaign trail — a giant poised to crush the United States if we don’t stay competitive. Instead, it was a nation wracked with anxieties, some of them strikingly like those of our middle class.

China-watchers know all this and can easily tick off the many problems facing the country at this moment, just as a new generation of leaders assumes power. But average Americans consistently overestimate China’s strength.”

That America consistently paints China to be a looming threat isn’t helping anyone. But now that the election is over, how can Obama make amends? A new post by our friends at China Daily Mail said it might be harder than anyone expects–mainly because America’s military strategy is doomed to clash with China’s. Obama is touring Asia right now, and it would appear that he has his work cut out for him:

“His trip, the first since he won the election, is clearly aimed to secure friends in a region that is increasingly important. Sadly the core US strategy of military presence hasn’t changed, and for as long as America believes it can guide China’s development through brute force, tensions will only escalate.

One of the centrepieces of the Obama administration has been its military pivot towards Asia, moving away from middle-east engagements and towards ensuring China doesn’t dominate the region. The policy epitomizes American thinking that most global problems can be solved through military presence, but sadly they’ve ignored the benefits of diplomacy and humanitarian assistance.

Concentrating on military strength will only increase the pressure between the USA and China, souring international relations and ruining the possibilities for meaningful alliances to develop. The US has been increasing regional pressure, moving military assets into the region (such as an increased marine presence in Darwin Australia) and pressing its allies to allow the stationing of military bases in their territory (Thailand).

However, this emphasis on military presence is doing more to alienate Asian nations than ensure their support. Thailand is gradually standing up to American pressure and beginning to look towards Chinese friendship, which it sees as more mutually beneficial. Other countries will be increasingly enticed to do the same as China’s pull becomes stronger.”

What do you think? Is there hope for a friendship? Which country is stronger?

Read more on China, France, America and the world beyond in the latest edition of Carnet Atlantique!

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