A press release from the Hillary Clinton campaign uses China as the primary “other” for the United States, a nation to which the United States should compare its progress.
An Oct. 10 press release outlining Clinton’s agenda on “Rebuilding the Road to the Middle Class” comes with several policy proposals and an attempt to frame the country’s economic challenges. And in the process of framing, China is set up as a main challenger for the United States, and a main point of comparison for U.S. development. Here, in full, is the section outlining “The Challenges”:
Other nations are increasingly investing in their innovation infrastructure, positioning themselves to challenge our leadership. In the last 12 years, China has doubled the percentage of GDP dedicated to R&D, and over that same period GDP itself doubled. Also, our share of the world’s scientists and engineers is declining, and too few American college students are preparing themselves for these careers. Fewer than 20% of American undergraduates are earning degrees in science or engineering, compared with more than 50% in China. Between 1970 and 2000, our global share of PhDs in science and engineering declined from 40% to 20%. And today, our global ranking in broadband has deteriorated to 25th.
Here, China is the primary “other” to which U.S. achievements are compared.
Later, in a section outlining a proposal for more education funding, China again is the only country named in comparison. “Education is the ultimate innovation prerequisite, but we are ceding ground to other nations,” the release states. “For example, 50% of undergraduates in China are earning degrees in science and engineering, but in America the rate is less than 20%. Our global share of PhDs in these fields has declined from 40% in 1970 to less than 20% today.”
Clinton’s rhetoric in this document compares the United States to China and to the world at large. But notably, no other country or political unit, not even the European Union, is mentioned by name. This is not an overt statement on China, but it tells us something about the way Hillary’s campaign views the rhetorical landscape: Among world powers, they apparently believe, the media and voters are concerned about China above all others.
Tomorrow, Clinton calls the U.S.–China relationship the world’s most important for the coming century, and Japan faces a demotion from the position of the United States’ most important Asian counterpart.
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