China and the 2016 US election

Updated: 2015-04-18 00:47

(China Daily USA)

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China and the 2016 US election
US Senator Rand Paul, Republican, Kentucky

The Republicans

As of April 16, Hillary Clinton is the only announced Democratic Party candidate. On the Republican side, Senators Ted Cruz of Texas, Rand Paul of Kentucky and Marco Rubio of Florida have formally entered the race. Former Florida Governor Jeb Bush, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie and Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker along with others are expected to join the field.

Clinton served as secretary of state in the first term of the Obama administration and is considered one of the architects of his Asia pivot, which is meant to be a refocusing of US interests from Europe and the Middle East to Asia, especially East Asia.

The Obama administration wanted to disengage the US from the Bush-era preoccupation with the Middle East, democratization, and terrorism. The September 11 attacks and the ensuing wars in Afghanistan and Iraq distracted the US from an East Asia that has become a leading economic powerhouse in not only the region, but the world.

As the Democratic nominee, Clinton will have to defend Obama's policy on China and the Asia pivot, said Feaver. "The GOP will say Clinton and the policy is too soft on China," he said.

Any background on Cruz, Paul and Rubio and China is sketchy at best. In the 2012 Senate race between Texas Lieutenant Governor David Dewhurst and Cruz, Dewhurst suggested that Cruz placed the interests of China above those of the US, stemming in part from Cruz's legal work for a Chinese company in a patent suit against an American inventor.

Last December the Alliance for Main Street Fairness – an advocacy group – criticized Cruz for opposing a bill that would allow online sales taxes, accusing him of cozying up to the Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba at the expense of American small businesses.

In a January 2014 op-ed newspaper article, Paul said, "The success of trade with China made many conservatives rethink their view of the world." He also said that by leveraging its relationship with China, the US should be able to influence the behavior of North Korea.

In 2013, Paul suggested that if the US had involved Russia and China more in talks with Syria, there would have been a possibility that Syrian strongman Bashar Assad "could already be gone."

In August 2014, the Tampa Bay Times reported that aides to Rubio and Florida US Representative Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, also a Republican, took an all-expenses paid trip to China courtesy of the Chinese government.

Last month Rubio said that the Chinese government "… provides their people no access to the Internet." Also in March he told a forum hosted by the Jack Kemp Foundation while speaking on the Russian incursion into the Ukraine, that perceived inaction or weakness on the part of the US could be interpreted by China as a permission slip to move on its own territorial claims.