U.S. Media is Used to Deceiving Itself

Edited by Alex Brewer

A short visit cannot put an end to the differences between China and the U.S., but behind the sensationalized headlines on China’s currency, “human rights” issues, and global warming, what we can see is the U.S. media’s long-standing arrogance and patronizing attitude.

With regards to President Obama’s visit to Asia last week, the U.S. media has proven itself to be as fickle as always. For example, Obama’s deferential bow to the Japanese emperor, which White House officials later justified as a so-called way to adapt to local customs, has surprisingly incited a collective feeling of anger among the U.S. media. And Fox News, always at odds with the White House, bluntly criticized Obama, who, as the U.S. president, should not bow down to important people from other countries. Their minds poisoned by the media, typical Americans have mocked Obama’s actions online, claiming that his bow was like “polishing the shoes” of the Japanese emperor.

Regarding China, a country that “loves to say ‘no’ to the U.S.,” the U.S. media feels even more hopeless about Obama’s visit because these two superpowers seem to be getting more and more on equal footing. Out of a seven day journey, Obama stayed in China for four days and three nights, suggesting China’s level of importance. Obama’s tone of voice was filled with hope for cooperation with China, even using the word “partnership” when speaking of U.S.-China relations. In response to Obama’s words, the U.S. media obviously feels wronged. In an article in The New York Times, one author wrote, in a rather sentimental tone, that the relationship between the U.S. and China is not like it used to be; it instead has changed into a competition between a declining superpower and a somewhat cocky rising star.

The U.S. media has its “reasons” for this reaction. In the U.S. media’s eyes, Obama has yet to see results regarding key issues such as China’s currency and so-called “human rights” issues. In reality, even if another person were president, he or she would also have similar troubles with these issues concerning the U.S.’s unilateral interests and goals. The U.S. has always hoped for the Chinese currency to appreciate, claiming that a strong Chinese currency is needed to save the global economy. In actuality, the U.S.’s intentions are clear: as the U.S. dollar depreciates and as China’s currency appreciates, the U.S. can increase exports and employment. However, for the U.S., this move would be like drinking poison to quench thirst. According to Paul Krugman, winner of the Nobel Prize in economics, this viewpoint on U.S. and Chinese currency would not only hurt China’s economy but also U.S. consumers’ interests and the economic recovery of the whole world.

In addition, these so-called “human rights” issues are, on some level, simply differences in societal and cultural values. However, there is a widespread misconception among the U.S. media that differences inevitably lead to conflict and war. Obviously, many Americans have difficulty understanding the idea of peace without uniformity. For many U.S. politicians, the topic of “human rights” is simply a tool to put political pressure on other countries.

In reality, a short visit cannot erase the differences between the U.S. and China. Behind all the sensationalized headlines about China’s currency, “human rights” issues, and global warming, what we see is the U.S. media’s long-standing arrogance and patronizing attitude. In the U.S.’s eyes, the U.S. is supposed to be the sole controller of the world order. However, the financial crisis has yet again made clear the importance of strengthening cooperation between China and the U.S., and both countries cannot avoid walking down the path of global cooperation.

Obama is undoubtedly a practical person. When reflecting on his visit to Asia, he claimed that cooperation between the U.S. and China signifies safety and prosperity for the world. These words contain two important signals: 1) China and the U.S. should not act like opponents from the Cold War era; 2) cooperation between the U.S. and China benefits the world. However, the U.S. media are obviously not content, instead choosing to bury their heads in the sand.

On Nov 20, the U.S. Ambassador to China, Jon Huntsman, Jr., harshly criticized the media of his own country. We hope that the U.S. media can eventually get used to the idea of an emerging China, and at the same time, we truly hope that the U.S. media can become more objective and level-headed, not more headstrong.

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