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New direction for U.S. diplomacy: Foreign policy is economic policy

(People's Daily Online)

18:51, February 21, 2013

Key Words: China-US ; US diplomacy

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U.S. President Barack Obama recently said in his 2013 State of the Union address that he will focus on the economy in the next four years. Previously, new U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said, “Diplomatic policy is economic policy,” signaling a new direction for U.S. diplomacy.

Playing economy card

Obama is still forming his second-term cabinet, and a list of just elected and nominated cabinet members shows that key positions in the administration will be held by pragmatists in the next four years. The United States will continue to cooperate with China but at the same time contains it.

Rules card

“On things like intellectual property, market access, and currency, there are still significant challenges ahead with China.”

Obama outlined his policy priorities in the next four years in his first State of the Union address after re-election on Feb. 12. The speech is largely focused on the U.S. domestic economy, budget deficit, and gun violence, with only a small part about foreign relations. It is worth noting that Obama just made a passing mention of China when talking about clean energy, forming a sharp contrast to his remarks last year. It is obvious that the U.S. president has softened his stance on China.
However, Nicholas R. Lardy, a China expert at the Peterson Institute for International Economics, believes that the Obama administration will continue its “hedge” strategy toward China. On the one hand, it will carry out high-level exchanges and cooperation with China. On the other hand, it will continue to act tough on China that “does not follow its economic and trade rules.”

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