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US' 'indispensable nation' remark irks China

Publication Date : 30-05-2014


China has taken issue with US President Barack Obama's declaration that the United States will continue to be "the one indispensable nation" in the world for the next century.

 Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman Qin Gang said in Beijing that while it "feels good to be the world's leader, there is no Paul the Octopus when it comes to foreign affairs" - a reference to the creature that came to fame in 2010 for its accurate prediction of World Cup matches.

Relations between the two behemoths have iced over in recent months as China criticised the US for emboldening allies such as the Philippines and Japan in its maritime territorial disputes.

In his speech on Wednesday, Obama again briefly cautioned China on those disputes, and then went on to dismiss claims that the US is on the decline.

Pointing to its peerless military capabilities, he said that "by most measures, America has rarely been stronger relative to the rest of the world".

Using political lessons captured in ancient texts by Chinese scholars on the rise and fall of various dynasties, Qin cautioned the US that empires have collapsed when their leaders do not engage in self-examination.

Chinese state media also took aim at Obama's statement that "when a typhoon hits the Philippines, or schoolgirls are kidnapped in Nigeria, or masked men occupy a building in Ukraine, it is America that the world looks to for help".

"So the United States is and remains the one indispensable nation. That has been true for the century past, and it will be true for the century to come," the president said.

In an editorial, Xinhua countered that Obama's foreign policy overtures have ranged from ineffective to detrimental.

"The US tried to interfere in Ukraine, but its people still live in violence and chaos. In Afghanistan, the US and Nato have decided to walk away, leaving shambles for the Afghan government and people. And in the years of its so-called Asian pivot, a vibrant and peaceful region has become one where war alarms are raised everywhere," it said.

"Obama says that the US must exercise global leadership. But no matter what he says, that US influence and sway has diminished is a fact. When it comes to international crises, its spirit is willing but its flesh is weak."

Singapore-based international relations analyst Li Mingjiang said: "The message to the US is first not to blame China for everything but to look at its own actions, and second, that the US should not take support for its world leadership for granted in these changing circumstances. Only if its actions are benevolent and moral will other countries support it on the world stage."

Professor Li noted that this message is not a new one from China, but "the black-and-white way it was said and use of Chinese ancient texts makes this a deeper caution than before".

"What this shows is that China is feeling extremely resentful and angered at the moment by what it considers provocation from the US on several fronts," he said.

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