I like election time, a big party that happens every four years where everyone suddenly becomes concerned with the nation’s economy, social issues and foreign policy.
There is also a personal meaning. It was exactly four years ago when I first came to this country. For four years, I have watched it go under changes, for better or worse, while observing from a distance.
The relationship between China and the U.S. also went under significant changes. For one, the two countries paid more attention to each other than ever before. While the rest of the world feels indifferent about the election, more people in China watched the presidential debates more closely than any other countries in the world.
A video clip of Jon Stewart’s The Daily Show went viral on China’s number one social media site Renren.com. People spent hours translating and making subtitles for the presidential debates, including ones where both candidates expressed determination to be hard on China.
The usual China-bashing nonetheless reflects a subtle change in the two countries’ relationship since 2008. Back then, the main attack points for the U.S. was human rights and Taiwan. This time, it’s all about unfair subsidies, large Chinese corporations’ potential to harm national security and, of course, currency manipulation. Threat or not, China has acquired a much more prominent position in the political discourse that involves the nation four years later.
Yet it is still way too early to say whether there will be a new answer to the age-old question of what happens when an established power and a rising power meet.
— Muge Niu