Having held its breath, sat on the edge of its seat and bitten its nails, the World exhaled a sigh of relief as President Obama was re-elected earlier this week. Congratulations from leaders around the globe poured into the White House as Obama began his second term of presidency.
But what of China? How was the news received in Beijing? And what does the next four years hold for these two global super powers? Natalie Clark investigates.
Although Chinese president Hu Jintao also congratulated the re-elected president, China’s eyes have been firmly set on Beijing- a stark contrast to the rest of the globe who seemed to have had been fixated on following the US election. China’s once-in-decade change of leadership began the day after Obama’s victory. Though steeped in mystery due to the selection of the new elite happening behind closed doors, Xi Jinping, the current vice president, is favourite to become the new President of the People’s Republic of China after the 18th Communist Party Congress.
The Chinese see Obama’s win, like the rest of the world, as more positive than negative, with one Chinese political netizen telling CNN’s Kristie Lu Stout that China would be pleased because, “it’s better to have the devil you know.” Yet, it seems that the US-China relationship may have been slightly marred during the US Presidential Campaign. One of the five topics in the final presidential debate was the ‘rise of China and tomorrow’s world.’ Both Obama and Romney addressed the issue of China’s ‘unfair trade practices’, calling upon the concerns of China’s future influence. The Republicans and Democrats were both anxious as to whether China was on it’s way to gaining an economic edge, and thus both proposed a strategy of ‘engaging’ and ‘containing’ China.
Beijing is concerned with Obama’s pivot back to Asia, and believes that things may turn sour if Washington tries to control and contain the rise of China’s growth. Furthermore, the state news agency, Xinhua, in a commentary said that the mutual trust between the two nations had been ‘whittled down’ during Obama’s first four years. It was also said that ‘as the two countries have been ever more economically interwoven, a new US government perhaps should start to learn how to build a more rational and constructive relationship with China.’ Furthermore, the news agency added before the polls closed, referring to the two candidates criticisms during the debates, that it hoped the results would bring ‘a pause in the China- bashing game.’
Does the US have cause for concern?
The outgoing president Hu Jintao did report that the Communist Party would propel China even further forward with more openness and reforms. When Hu came into power in 2003, similar promises were made, and under his leadership, the economic progress of the country has been remarkable. It has effectively surpassed Japan to position itself as the world’s second largest economy, and the government reacted to the global economic meltdown efficiently. In the past twenty years, China has gone from being a country determined to ban any foreign influences to a nation that is deeply integrated into international economic system.
Now with these new proposed strategies from Washington, one can be sure that there will be some turbulence in the next four years between the two nations. With the US wondering whether the continual growth of China will present an imminent threat, the Chinese are torn to whether America uses its super power status to hurt or help China.