The presidents of China and the US faced very different situations when attending last week’s Apec summit in Beijing.
While President Xi Jinping asserted his glorious visions of a “great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation” and a “Chinese dream”, Obama was facing a midterm crisis, political losses and a high disapproval rating.
The Apec summit was once again testimony to China’s wealth, with Beijing serving as host and taking the centre stage. At the same time, United States has been criticised for its handling of Ebola outbreak and its strategy in dealing with Islamic State in the Middle East.
China is expected to overtake the US as the world’s largest economy in the next few years, whereas growth in the US is sluggish at best. So why are thousands of mainland students choosing to opt out of the local education system to take the SAT, in hope of studying at a US university?
The sons and daughters of China’s political elite, including Bo Guagua and Xi Mingze, often pursue degrees at HarvardUniversity or other prestigious foreign universities.
In times when the phrase “foreign intervention” has become a taboo among Chinese officials, it is important to note that these officials are also parents who choose to send their children to study in the West.
Beneath the propaganda of military expansion and claims of economical development, China remains weak in sectors such as education and innovation. It is unable to attract many foreign students or retain experts in important fields. Beijing is still buying combat jets and submarines from Russia, instead of cultivating home grown scientists and engineers.
With rampant copyright infringement and little emphasis on originality, China has been unable to produce the level of innovation seen in Silicon Valley in the US.
There have been successful online start-ups like Alibaba, Sina, Weibo and Baidu, but these are often seen as copies of older US counterparts, like Amazon, Twitter and Google. China has a reputation of producing cheap forgeries.
National strength is not only reflected by the size of the economy. It also consists of international reputation, cultural influence and quality of life. While we may foolishly take pride in purchasing skyscrapers in New York or London, others are laughing at our complacency and ignorance.