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Op-Ed: The malfunctioning of the US system is making China “great again”

By Curtis Stone, Chengliang Wu (People's Daily Online)    13:19, July 18, 2017

You do not need to be a political scientist to know that Washington is a total mess. The power fight that began before the general election lingers on, and with no clear end in sight. Not only has the country been thrust into political chaos, but the nation is more divided than ever. As a result, the new government cannot get anything meaningful done. In addition, US foreign policy is in total disarray, and world regard for the US has plummeted. Indeed, America is making China “great again.” But it is not just the fault of the Trump Administration; the US system is malfunctioning.

Trust and confidence in US leadership and governance has been damaged by its own broken political system. Despite strong opposition, for example, the new government riled much of the world by withdrawing from the nearly 200-nation Paris Climate Agreement. On the domestic front, the new government is getting nowhere in its battle to fix one of the worst healthcare systems in the developed world. And there is still no agreement on how to pay for Trump’s ambitious one-trillion-dollar infrastructure investment plan to build or rebuild ports, roads, bridges, and airports, among other things.

Meanwhile, China is leading the world in infrastructure investment, and now boasts the world’s highest and longest bridges and a host of other engineering marvels. “In America, we don’t [even] have high-speed trains,” wrote a reader on the Facebook page of the People’s Daily in response to an article about how passengers onboard China's high-speed trains can now order food from their smartphones. China is home to the world’s largest bullet-train network, and recently rolled out its newest high-speed train the Fuxing. As a different reader pointed out, China’s infrastructure and its stable economy are the envy of many Americans and the world.

Once the world’s model, the great American meltdown has turned the US into some bizarre soap opera, with characters trying to handle tragedy on a daily basis. “This farce is getting more and more exciting from the other side of the ocean,” said Xiakedao, the WeChat account of the overseas edition of the People’s Daily, in a recent commentary piece about Trump’s eldest son being dragged into the Trump-Russia soap opera.

China cannot afford to play such political games. “As a country with 1.4 billion people, China must focus on economic development, and a strong central leadership is needed,” said one expert, who asked to remain anonymous. In fact, strong leadership was the core of Trump’s appeal to return America to its former glory but the American political system makes it difficult if not impossible for him to fully roll out his “Make America Great Again” agenda and fulfill all of his campaign promises.

This is not the case in China—a country on the move. Leaders are gearing up for a smooth power transition this fall, and the government has a laundry list of major achievements under its belt. For example, China is rolling out grand global initiatives such as the Belt and Road, an economic and diplomatic program that will almost certainly transform the world economic landscape, as well as an ambitious domestic agenda that, among other things, aims to lift all of the country’s poor out of poverty by 2020—some 10 million people each year. These are remarkable achievements. Meanwhile, the US remains stuck in a mudslinging political fight between so-called liberals and conservatives.

A simple reason explains why China is rising: its system is working. America’s shrinking global influence in the face of rising China shows that the Chinese model is not destined to fail simply because it does not look like the American model of democracy. In addition, this shows that Western democracy is not always a panacea. Like it or not, China’s system confers advantages over the fractious democracies, such as long-term planning, the ability to adapt quickly, and the ability to make and implement decisions effectively, and it should be taken seriously.

So think what you want about China’s political system of multi-party cooperation and political consultation under the leadership of the Communist Party of China, but there is no way China could have accomplished so much in so little time under a system of opposition. The modern, prosperous, and strong China of today is a product of efficiency and effectiveness, and the China of tomorrow will most likely be borne out of the same system. Perhaps the US could learn a thing or two from the China model.

(For the latest China news, Please follow People's Daily on Twitter and Facebook)(Web editor: Wu Chengliang, Bianji)

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