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India, China new competitors for US: Bush
Aziz Haniffa in Washington DC | February 01, 2006 12:43 IST
US President George W Bush, in his annual State of the Union speech in the well of the House chamber of the US Congress on Wednesday, acknowledged the growing economic power of India and China in the global marketplace and exhorted that it is imperative that America remains alert to stave off the competition its faces from these two rising economic giants.
While stating that "the American economy is preeminent," Bush asserted, "we (the US) cannot afford to be complacent."
"In a dynamic world economy, we are seeing new competitors, like China and India, and this creates uncertainty, which makes it easier to feed people's fears," he said.
"So we're seeing some old temptations return. Protectionists want to escape competition, pretending that we can keep our high standard of living while walling off our economy. Others say that the government needs to take a larger role in directing the economy, centralising more power in Washington and increasing taxes," Bush said.
The US President said that there were also the murmurs of xenophobia in that "we hear claims that immigrants are somehow bad for the economy, even though this economy could not function without them."
"All these are forms of economic retreat, and they lead in the same direction -- toward a stagnant and second-rate economy," he warned.
Bush argued that "to keep America competitive, one commitment is necessary above all: we must continue to lead the world in human talent and creativity."
"Our greatest advantage in the world has always been our educated, hardworking, ambitious people and we're going to keep that edge," and then rattled off his "American Competitiveness Initiative," which he said would zero in on encouraging "innovation throughout our economy, and to give our nation's children a firm grounding in math and science."
He said that it was a no-brainer that "we need to encourage children take more math and science, and to make sure those courses are rigorous enough to compete with other nations."
As part of his initiative, Bush said: "Tonight I propose to train 70,000 high school teachers to lead advanced-placement courses in math and science, bring 30,000 math and science professionals to teach in classrooms, and give early help to students who struggle with math, so they have a better chance at good, high-wage jobs."
"If we ensure that America's children succeed in life, they will ensure that America succeeds in the world," he predicted.
Bush also made a strong pitch for his guest-worker programme which the White House believes is the panacea to resolving the illegal immigration problem, but which the President's own Republican Party -- particularly the right-wing conservatives -- have warned is dead on arrival, arguing that this is nothing more than an amnesty programme.
"Keeping America competitive requires an immigration system that upholds our laws, reflects our values, and serves the interests of our economy," Bush said, but obviously in order to appease his conservative base, he conceded that "our nation needs orderly and secure borders."
He said, "To meet this goal, we must have stronger immigration enforcement and border protection. And we must have a rational, humane guest worker programme that rejects amnesty, allows temporary jobs for people who seek them legally, and reduces smuggling and crime at the border."