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China and the American Dream

PARIS – China may be just a few years away from becoming the world’s leading economic power, and America’s strategic centrality may be on the wane (certainly, no one speaks of the United States today as the world’s “hyperpower”). But America still makes people dream, and its emotional hold on the world remains unique.

In this sense, last week brought two victories: not just Barack Obama’s over Republican challenger Mitt Romney in the presidential election, but also the victory of America’s democratic system over China’s one-party authoritarianism. In a few sentences of his victory speech – the space of a magic moment – Obama celebrated “the mystery of democracy” in a very concrete, but also nearly religious manner.