Why don’t Americans care about China

by Chris Zappone

A piece in Foreign Policy warns China’s media about overthinking US views on their nation. 

While discussing US ignorance of Chinese news, the article hints at an important reality: Outside of elite circles in the US, Americans by and large don’t think about China. While they may be concerned about economic competition from China or an eventual military threat, day-to-day China simply does not register in Americans minds the way, say, Russia does.

Americans have strong views of Russia, in part because of history, but also the make-up of the US which still looks across the Atlantic not Pacific as the main theater of foreign news. And remember how cacophonous the media world is inside of the US – even valid domestic stories fight for attention.

But with the decision-making process among China’s leaders opaque, and in fact, the leadership conducted by committee many in the US would find little to grasp. China’s strategy overall is to never reveal too much to a potential rival. And so with no firm threats, military build ups, no clear motives, or international incidence, the American mind has little to grasp.

In other words, for the US view of China, ignorance may be bless.

But there is a risk, too, that his ignorance allows the Chinese economy to degrade the American one. Areas of technological advantage in the US may succumb to a competition that the nation as a whole never recognises. It would be a sort of stealth rivalry that could occur without the full knowledge of the US. This is a serious implication of a relationship in which Americans remain broadly ignorant of China.