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State of the Union speech, as heard by China, India, France, Israel...

State of the Union coverage in the world's newspapers says as much about the specific concerns of other countries as it does about what President Obama actually said.

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That’s why an Indian newspaper like the Hindustan Times focuses on the China section of Obama’s speech:

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"I will go anywhere in the world to open new markets for American products," [Obama] said. "And I will not stand by when our competitors don't play by the rules.  We've brought trade cases against China at nearly twice the rate as the last administration -- and it's made a difference."

"It's not right when another country lets our movies, music, and software be pirated. It's not fair when foreign manufacturers have a leg up on ours only because they're heavily subsidized."

In South Africa, where the two main parties seem to have given up on speaking with each other, and instead bellow at their own constituencies, newspapers focused on the partisan divide in the US. The New Age, a newspaper that is openly close with the ruling African National Congress, headlined their story "Feisty Obama speech gets icy Republican reception."

For French papers, US political rhetoric is a mystery that must be studied for hidden meanings. Like Rene Magritte’s painting of a pipe, entitled “This is not a pipe,” American political promises are statements that must be seen as more than they appear to be.

The Paris-based newspaper, Le Monde, is perhaps the most straightforward, in an article entitled “Barack Obama presents the roadmap for reelection.”

Faced with a Congress, where his Republican opponents are in a strong position, and nine months to seek a second term, Obama assured Americans that the U.S. was “getting stronger,” and he wanted to present plans for "…an economy built to last, where hard work pays off, and responsibility is rewarded." 

British papers saw reflections of their own social and economic struggles, with the left-leaning Guardian focusing on Obama’s description of a country “where a shrinking number of people do really well, while a growing number of Americans barely get by,” and the more conservative Telegraph highlighted the swift and negative reaction of Republican Gov. Mitch Daniels, who said, “A government as big and bossy as this one is maintained on the backs of the middle class, and those who hope to join it.”

The Jerusalem Post, meanwhile, focused on the portion of Obama’s speech dealing with the Middle East. America’s “ironclad commitment to Israel's security has meant the closest cooperation between our countries in history," the Post quoted Obama as saying. As for Iran, the Post noted that Obama still felt negotiation with the Ahmedinejad government was still worthwhile, but pointed out that Obama had added he would  take "no options off the table" in ensuring the Iran does not create or receive nuclear weapons.

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