President Trump’s State of the Union address hails the strength, value and interests of the United States. The Chinese counterpart of the SOTU address, the Premier’s annual work report （政府工作报告，literally “Report on the Work of the Government”）pales in comparison.
The value of the United States extends beyond its strong rule-of-law tradition, its vibrant democratic system, and its extensive freedoms of expression, religious belief, and a wide range of other civil liberties. Above all, the United States is known for its tolerance and celebration of diversity and its everlasting innovative spirit.
American politics certainly has its dark side, but political debates are usually conducted in an open, nonviolent manner. Moreover, the legal and judicial system serves as the ultimate means of resolving disputes.
The State of the Union address was frequently interrupted by applause from the audience. The applause is political in tone, as members stand and clap in response to the Trump’s remarks with which they agree. In that sense, the audience is also cheering themselves on.
I was moved to tears by the story of Grace Eline, who had decided to exchange her birthday gifts for charity donations since an early age. She survived a germ-cell brain tumor. It seems that when you do good deeds, it does come back to you in some way. Yet to me the greatest of all kindness arises from altruism: We genuinely want to help others, never entertaining the thought that they will return the favor some day.
The purpose of the State of the Union address is to cater to the concerns of the American people. Even if the speech is crafted by a seasoned hand, it still reflects Trump's personality quirks. He bluntly expressed his disagreements with the Democrats.
Trump’s declaration that “America will never be a socialist country” energizes many in the audience. But the statement also risks putting the ideological branding iron on policy debates.
The US social insurance and healthcare system suffer from many loopholes which need to be closed. For example, the screening process for eligibility for some welfare programs could potentially be gamed. Yet the US is one of the few exceptions among Western industrialized nations who do not provide universal healthcare. Efforts to reform the healthcare system are bogged down by large interests group.
Did Iran violate the agreements of the nuclear deal? Trump thought so, although his intelligence team suggested otherwise. He abandoned the pact and reimposed sanctions on Iran. The EU took aim at Washington by reiterating its commitment to saving the nuclear deal with Iran, according to a recent report issued by the nation bloc. Trump admitted that Israel played a role in his decision.
The legitimacy of the Maduro presidency has been questioned by many countries. The outcome of the election was only recognized by about 110 countries last year. In his quest for justice, Guaido led his people to the streets to demand a re-election. The United States hurriedly acknowledged Guaido as the country’s interim president, a move that closely resembles the “backyard strategy” deployed by the US in Cuba, Chile, and Jamaica in the last century. But compared with his predecessors, Trump has a more direct and forceful approach.
Trump's withdrawal from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty with Russia sets the stage for a potentially more effective and enforceable restrictive treaty, which in principle should also involve China and other countries. Designing such a treaty is certainly more involved. In the absence of a new treaty, it will be extremely difficult for the United States to find an Asian country that is willing to deploy intermediate-range missiles targeting China, including allies of US like Japan, South Korea, and the Philippines. Unless they are in a state of war, these countries are more likely to accept an anti-ballistic missile system.
The US-China trade negotiations will resume in Beijing early next week. What exactly is the definition of "structural changes" demanded by Trump in his SOTU address?Even if the Chinese uses the same term and cooperates by speeding up legislature regarding foreign investment and IP protection, I find it hard to imagine the CCP will actually abide by it. Stop interfering in the market economy and the key sector would amount to nothing short of cutting the CCP’s lifeline.
Semantics matter. Xi Jinping is “begging for peace” while Trump simply “wants a deal”. To people who are adamantly anti-CCP , such language seems easier to swallow. (I made a comment earlier on that Trump is “eager to make peace with Xi” and was harshly criticized.) As the March 1 deadline quickly approaches, there is still one remaining sticking point: the location of the meeting between Trump and Xi. Trump doesn’t want to commit to meeting with Xi in Hainan. The US president’s fickleness not only frequently catches his own team off guard, but also drives the Chinese officials crazy. But in the eyes of some Chinese who support Trump more than the average American, it is all part of Trump's grand negotiation stratagem.