Americans disagree on virtually every political topic. We, as a country, don’t see eye to eye on abortion, gun control, government spending, gay marriage, immigration or practically an infinite number of other dividing issues. We don’t agree on what the role of government should be or how the Constitution should be interpreted. Short of an absolute tragedy, Americans have never been in complete universal agreement on certain political matters. Yet when it comes to China, we can all agree on one thing: It scares the hell out of us.
It’s no secret that China is growing at an unprecedented rate. Within just a couple decades, China has reinvented itself and has become a global superpower. Recently surpassing Japan as the world’s second largest economy, China has begun to encroach on America’s international dominance, leaving many to believe that China will soon be the world’s major economic power. According to a recent NBC/Wall Street Journal poll, 38 percent of Americans believe that China will be the world leader in 20 years or less. This statistic, compared to only 35 percent of Americans who believe that the United States will remain in power as the global economic leader, causes many to show concern.
Those who are most concerned are undeniably our elected officials. Politicians from both sides of the spectrum are desperately seeking ways that we as a country can ensure our continued dominance over China. Few people understand this more than President Barack Obama. Perhaps it’s because of this universal fear that Obama brought up China on four separate occasions in his 2011 State of the Union address, while also speaking about growing Asian countries an additional three times. This wasn’t an accident. Obama wants to make sure no one forgets about China’s growing dominance anytime soon.
As he embarks on the second half of his first term as president, Obama has made it readily apparent that he plans on heightening America’s investment in technology, education and renewable energy. Unfortunately for him, with the Republican-dominated House of Representatives, funds for these expensive endeavors won’t be easily approved. Obama has realized that the Republicans will never approve the spending that he wants, so he has to think of drastic ways to garner the support that he needs. By reminding America of China’s threat, Obama is in effect trying to scare Republicans into approving his spending in order to keep up with China’s continuous growth. “China is building faster trains and newer airports. Meanwhile, when our own engineers graded our nation’s infrastructure, they gave us a D,” he said in his address.
Obama knows just as well as the Republicans do that to save American jobs and to ensure our continued dominance, Republicans will be willing to approve spending that they normally would be hesitant to sign off on. This is a brilliant political ploy because this may very well be Obama’s only chance to gain the support he needs to approve the projects he wishes to enact.
In reality, no one loses from this undertaking. We as a country desperately need improvements such as a high-speed rail transit system, improved broadband speeds and further investment in renewable energies. China will surpass us very soon unless we make certain investments. As Obama reiterated in his speech, “Just recently, China became home to the world’s largest private solar research facility, and the world’s fastest computer.”
America must act soon because if we wish to ensure our continued global dominance, we have to not only keep up with China’s advancement, but also surpass them in investments for the future. The president’s focus point in his State of the Union was that “We need to out-innovate, out-educate and out-build the rest of the world.” This was Obama’s way of saying: We need to catch up with China.
Patrick Maillet is an LSA freshman.