Seeing How Obama Cannot
Change, We Know How Difficult It Will Be for China
By Gao Wang
Translated By Mollie Gossage
22 January 2013
Edited by Kathleen Weinberger
China - Huanqiu - Original Article (Chinese)
On Monday, U.S. President Obama formally began another four-year term. His country is currently suffering from economic weakness and political division; as the re-elected president, he most clearly illustrates how difficult change is for the world’s largest economic system.
It was through his cries for “change” that Obama first entered the White House four years ago — but he doesn’t shout that slogan anymore. From the perspective of change, he has basically turned in a blank sheet for these past four years. Wall Street remains unchanged. Health care reform, the only presentable item, to this day hangs unresolved in midair, essentially unmovable.
America is the world’s super-large management system. It’s powerful, so its advantage in global influence is naturally greater; the choices it confronts will also be more plentiful. American society is smaller than Chinese society as a whole, but America’s internal contradictions are realized and dispersed more fully, completely imbuing the capabilities of the American system, gradually making it clumsy and inflexible. Over the past four years, the deepest impressions that people have had of Obama have been of his demeanor and a handful of sayings. However, it seems that it will be very difficult to leave anything brilliant behind for history.
It’s not that Obama is stupid, but that America as a country is increasingly burdened with difficulties. The forces holding Obama back are in fact too many; over the last decade, America’s domestic divisions and differences have become more and more serious.
America is at the peak of social development. Although it has muddled through four years of the most important capital, once wiled away, the cost is nothing more than a feeling of crisis upon seeing emerging countries develop at a faster rate. If the leadership of China — a large developing country — were to follow the methods of American government, things would probably be impossibly convoluted.
China likewise is a super-huge management system; while China’s power is not at the level of America’s — China has not gone all around the world making trouble — China’s interior today is experiencing an all-out period of conflict. America simply cannot compare to China when it comes to the total amount of social conflict. Buried or half-buried past conflicts are now gradually starting to emerge, in a similar was as they have in American society. For a long time now, China has not been able to implement policy in socially peripheral countries simply upon the government’s call.
China’s domestic complexities, when considered laterally, are somewhat easier to make sense of. From Obama’s cry for “change” four years ago until today, China’s changes have obviously greatly outnumbered America’s. China’s transformations these past several years are so many that change seems to have become a state in and of itself; these changes may gradually upgrade to some really earth-shattering stuff.
The intensity of China’s health care reform these past few years makes Obama’s health care reform pale in significance. And China’s transformations do not end at health care reform! Almost all of China’s social policies are lateral adjustments toward improving people’s lives and strengthening fairness. Although China hasn’t had a political overturn like was experienced during the Arab Spring, its magnitude of social change these past few years is undoubtedly among the highest in the world.
As the passion of dispute is incessantly aroused, the speed of democracy progresses. All of this adds new vitality to Chinese society, breaking the former facade of unity. In any case, this is a good thing for China, but at the same time it is also a new thing. How is it possible to grasp the new situation, to transfer these good things from the political and ideological level into social, human results — this will be a long-term test for China.
There is at least one portion of people who are particularly excited to be in the early stages of a diversified Chinese society. They have a fresh marketization strategy for influencing public opinion, but lack the necessary scope. Some people even lack a feeling of responsibility for the safeguarding the nation or the overwhelming majority of public interest.
China and America are both nations facing management difficulties, but America can simply maintain the achievement of its previous generations, while China must constantly progress. Since the reform and opening, China has learned a lot of things from the United States, but it must also learn a key lesson from America’s performance in financial crisis: Dispute is a good thing, but it cannot go on endlessly. China definitely must maintain its priorities of timely policy decisions and the strength to change future policy into action.
China has not only already entered the age of “any decision will be met with the voice of opposition”; it is also gradually approaching the deep end of it. Here there are many treasures to be had, but every treasure must have a practical function for the Chinese people. If 21st-century China is to proceed well, the first law of necessity is that this country must continuously expand democracy; the first commandment is: Chinese society must not fall into disunity like a heap of loose sand.
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