Post-election reality check
Updated: 2012-10-24 08:16
As expected, US President Barack Obama and his Republican rival Mitt Romney resorted to the same old blame China song in the presidential debate in the United States on Monday, albeit with a softer tone.
Both candidates have clung to a get-tough-on-China strategy and done their best to throw mud at China throughout their White House race, so whoever wins the election on Nov 6 is going to need to do a rapid reality check.
Each summarized their stance toward the country during the debate on Monday evening.
In an attempt to show he has already got tough on China, Obama boasted that he has brought more cases against China for violating trade rules than the previous administration did in two terms.
Romney's line was that China has done everything it can to harm the US, ranging from "manipulating" its currency to "stealing" US intellectual property and patents.
However, a reality check will show them that although they blame China for causing trade imbalances and complain that Chinese companies and their US counterparts are not competing on a level playing field, the protectionist measures that Obama bragged about have not only served to dampen Chinese investment in the US that could have created jobs, but cost Americans a lot more.
A reality check would also show them the yuan's continual appreciation against the US dollar and the extent to which China has strengthened its IP protection.
The most unbelievable part of Monday's debate was the moment when both candidates said they would press Beijing to "play by the rules" in shaping ties with China.
A reality check will show them that, in international politics and trade, China has been faithfully observing the principles of justice and fairness enshrined in both the UN Charter and WTO rules.
They might want to ask themselves to what extent the US can say the same.
In fact, Obama and Romney tried to have it both ways during Monday's debate. Romney said if elected he can treat China as a partner, not an adversary because China has similar interests to the US. Something Obama has been saying for the last three years, until recently.
But words are not the same as deeds. And once elected, whoever wins will have to come to terms with reality and take practical steps to rebuild the bridges that the China-bashing rhetoric has damaged.
(China Daily 10/24/2012 page8)