Chinese wonder: Why are Americans so obsessed with us lately?

“Worries about the Chinese economy have been followed by worries about the Chinese military and even by overblown fears that Chinese educational values and ‘tiger mothers’ may be superior to American ones,” wrote Niu Xinchun, deputy director of the Institute of American Studies at the China Institute of Contemporary International Relations, in an opinion piece last week. “Obama’s State of the Union greatly reinforced these fears.”

Many here compare this period to the “Japan-bashing” of the 1980s, when some feared that Japan, with its then-booming export economy and restrictive trade practices, would overtake the United States.

The nationalistic tabloid daily newspaper Global Times, which is owned by the Chinese Communist Party’s official mouthpiece People’s Daily, ran an editorial shortly after Obama’s speech accusing the United States of a “strategy that intensifies and exploits public fear of the unknown,” much like the fear of Japanese economic power in the 1980s.

“This time, the difference is that demonization is running full scale,” the paper wrote. It also said “many dogged U.S. media outlets are devoted to disseminating China-phobic fears.” The paper said the American economy still had many advantages, but opined, “prosperity comes from competition, rather than fear.”