Most important contest is between US, world: Obama

US Prez tells Republican opponents to work hard to overcome challenges posed by China.

Washington: President Barack Obama on Wednesday told his Republican opponents to work hard to overcome the challenges posed by America`s economic competitors like China as they are threatening to march ahead of the US in key areas.

"The most important contest we face is not the contest between Democrats and Republicans. In this century, the most important competition we face is between America and our economic competitors around the world. To win that competition and to continue our economic leadership, we`re going to need to be strong and we`re going to need to be united," Obama said at a crowded White House press conference.

"What I think the American people are expecting and what we owe them is to focus on those issues that affect their jobs, their security and their future, reducing our deficit, promoting a clean energy economy, making sure that our children are the best educated in the world, making sure that we`re making the investments in technology that allow us to keep our competitive edge in the global economy," he said.

Hours after being defeated, he asserted that he would not cut the education budget, as was being proposed by the Republicans as this would affect America`s competitiveness in the years to come.

"I want to make sure that we`re not cutting into education, that is going to help define whether or not we can compete around the world," he said.

"I don`t think we should be cutting back on research and development, because if we can develop new technologies in areas like clean energy, that could make all the difference in terms of job creation here at home," he said in response to a question.

"I think the proposal that I`ve put forward with respect to infrastructure is one that historically we`ve had bipartisan agreement about. We should be able to agree now that it makes no sense for China to have better rail systems than us, and Singapore having better airports than us," he said.

"And we just learned that China now has the fastest supercomputer on Earth. That used to be us. They`re making investments, because they know those investments will pay off over the long term," he added.

"So in these budget discussions the key is to be able to distinguish between stuff that isn`t adding to our growth, isn`t an investment in our future, and those things that are absolutely necessary for us to be able to increase job growth in the future, as well," Obama said.

The US President said the single most important thing he thinks needs to do be done economically -- and this is something that has to be done during the lame-duck session -- is making sure that taxes don`t go up on middle-class families next year.

"The reason we`ve got an unparalleled standard of living in the history of the world is because we`ve got a free market that is dynamic and entrepreneurial. And that free market has to be nurtured and cultivated," Obama said.