China can have the western system, but not the same living standard as Americans
Zaobao.com, China; 14 May 2010; By 区言; Translated By Christine.xiao; Edited by Catherine Harrington
Cold Warriors’ Over-Active Imagination |
Is President Obama blaming China or revealing his expectations for China?
President Obama will visit Australia this June. On April 15 the Australian Broadcasting Corporation aired an exclusive interview with him, with part of the interview recently quoted out of context and spread widely on the internet in China. Looking at the headlines, you can see what caused outrange in some "netizens."
"While the West has to acknowledge the success of the Chinese model, they do feel a bone-deep threat. This is fully reflected in the interview with Obama conducted by the Australian Television Station. Obama claimed: ‘You know if you talk to Chinese leaders I think they will acknowledge immediately that if over a billion Chinese citizens have the same living patterns as Australians and Americans do right now then all of us are in for a very miserable time, the planet just can’t sustain it, so they understand that they’ve got to make a decision about a new model that is more sustainable that allows them to pursue the economic growth that they’re pursuing while at the same time dealing with these environmental consequences. So I think they understand intellectually.’ "
"Obama made a very strategic speech. He expressed his real thoughts through his speculation and assumptions about Chinese leaders (In fact how could Chinese leaders acknowledge this?). Here, his purpose is not to negate the American life model, but to negate that Chinese people live the same way as Americans do. He hopes China can change its development model.
But the core question is: Is the big problem with the American model rather than the Chinese model? What needs to change is the Western model rather than the Chinese model. Why doesn’t America take the lead in creating a new sustainable model? The emergencies created by the West have dominated the world for five hundred years; why haven't they created a sustainable model until now? Moreover, why do they want to promote their model globally as based on universal values? Even by military force (Afghanistan, Iraq)? Isn't this abandoning the very ‘advice’ Obama gave to China?"
"This time, Obama uttered a fact: China can have the western system, but cannot enjoy the same living standard as Americans. However, he should know, the reason why many third-world nations take the U.S.A. as an example is because they expect to have the same living standards as Americans. Hasn’t his declaration denigrated the whole world's yearning for the American system? It seems that Obama's real intention is revealed in the end."
As a matter of fact, what did Obama say in the interview? Readers can read the original full English transcript at this link:
Face to face with Obama
Now, let us take a practical approach and see exactly what Obama said that irritated the netizens.
The Australian television reporter Kerry O’Brien finished asking questions about Iraq and then turned to global climate change.
Kerry O'Brien: "You've described nuclear terrorism as America's greatest risk in the short and long term, but climate change has also been described as the greatest single risk to humanity. You met Chinese president Hu on Monday. Did you two make any progress on climate change, because surely the solution is largely in the end in your hands and his?"
President Obama: "Well I would dispute that any two countries can dictate a solution here, we’re going to have to have an investment by all nations in dealing with what I think is a very real problem. Australia has a significant carbon footprint just like we do, and certainly per capita, our two countries have some of the biggest carbon footprints …
I know that both in the United States and in Australia, there is a concern that somehow there is a conflict between economic growth on the one hand and dealing aggressively with climate change. What I’ve been trying to say here in the United States and I would say to the world is that if we focus our attention, our ingenuity, our innovative capacity on transforming from a fossil fuel based economy to a clean energy based economy then potentially we can not only solve the problem of climate change but unleash an enormous amount of economic growth for the future but it’s going to take some time, and there’s going to be some transition and people are understandably resistant.”
Kerry O'Brien: "Do you feel that you are making headway with President Hu on this front?"
President Obama: "Well you know I think China has an enormous interest in solving this problem. You know if you talk to Chinese leaders I think they will acknowledge immediately that if over a billion Chinese citizens have the same living patterns as Australians and Americans do right now then all of us are in for a very miserable time, the planet just can’t sustain it, so they understand that they’ve got to make a decision about a new model that is more sustainable that allows them to pursue the economic growth that they’re pursuing while at the same time dealing with these environmental consequences. So I think they understand intellectually.
Right now though their understandable impulse is to say well let’s let the developed countries, the Australias, and the Americas deal with this problem first and we’ll get to it when we’ve caught up a little bit in terms of our standard of living. The point we’ve tried to make is we can’t, we can’t allow China to wait. We have to take responsibility and do what needs to be done, but if emerging countries not just China but also India, Brazil and others are pursuing a path in which they replace us as the largest carbon emitters, that’s not a sustainable practical approach, so we’re going to have to have everybody moving on the same track at the same time."
Obama’s final remarks about the China issue: "It is in our interests, both of our countries interests for China to be successful, for China to be prosperous, because that means they’re more likely to be stable, that means they’re more likely to be able to deal with issues like the energy efficiency of their industries, and reduce pollution, and so we’re not interested in constraining China, we want China to do well.
The only thing we want to make sure of is that a country like China as it is growing and inevitably will end up being the largest economy just because of the enormous size of their population, that they are also taking their international responsibilities seriously and that they recognize that with great power comes great responsibility."
Twenty years have passed since the Cold War. During this time period, America has tried to dominate the world but instead sank into war. And as a consequence its economy has suffered. Since the president took office, he has brought a new tone to international politics. No matter how many conflicts there are between the interests of America, China and Russia, Cold War confrontations seldom occur. Instead, leaders are starting to solve problems and ease conflict through rational dialogue.
But some people still cannot get rid of the cold-war mentality. In their mind, there must still be a simulated enemy. They easily project their enemy’s character to be reflected by the rich, the rebellious, the bad, as opposed to the right people in the international system. The chief executive of U.S. imperialism "that expects China to play an active role in the international arena” unfortunately becomes the object of their projection.