The View From China

Via James Fallows, a slice of Chinese media perspective on the midterms:

Global Times/Huanqiu Shibao (Daily, circ. 1.5 mil) [ 环球时报 — “Global Times,” an influential but fairly raw-meat nationalist paper]

The U.S. looks for a scapegoat for its decline (pg1)

Quote: The world media believes that Americans did not take into serious consideration the current administration’s policy adjustments but abruptly hoped their leader would instantly bring them back to the golden time after Cold War, which is impossible. Obama has been completely denied. It is believed to be a “thought riot” in the U.S…. Yu Wanli at Peking University’s Center for International Strategic Research said that Americans will become more impatient than usual due to the elections. What Obama has encountered right now is because he has become the scapegoat for U.S. decline.

To state the obvious, the United States and China are very different societies. But one point we have in common, that separates us from our European partners, is that both are very large societies whose scale has allowed us to preserve a remarkable amount of solipsism even in the face of rapidly falling costs of transportation and communication. So in the United States you had a rash of really thoughtless China-bashing midterm ads, and in China you have this slightly odd conceit that Americans are primarily driven by China-related anxieties rather than primarily being totally indifferent to the world beyond our borders.


Managing this relationship is going to be one of the most important tasks of not only the current president, but all national political leaders for the next generation or two. I wonder if this kind of gigantism-induced mental isolationism will make the landscape easier or harder to navigate. The good news, after all, is that it is a real common point of reference.