Romney promises 'US ideals'
Updated: 2012-09-01 02:20
By Tan Yingzi in Tampa (China Daily)
Candidate skims over foreign policy details
As Mitt Romney presented himself to the world as the future leader of the United States on Thursday night, his nearly 40-minute long speech at the Republican National Convention focused little on foreign policy.
Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney (right) waves to the crowd with vice presidential runningmate Representative Paul Ryan after accepting the nomination during the final session of the Republican National Convention in Tampa, Florida, on Thursday.[Agencies]
Not until the end of his talk did he reference global affairs, mainly blaming President Barack Obama for abandoning US allies and taking a diplomatic stance on Iran's nuclear issue.
Without outlining any concrete plans, Romney said he will adopt the bipartisan foreign policy principles of Harry Truman and Ronald Reagan, which focuses on containment of rising powers, such as the former Soviet Union.
"We will honor America's democratic ideals because a free world is a more peaceful world. This is the bipartisan foreign policy legacy of Truman and Reagan. And under my presidency we will return to it once again," the nominee said during the speech at the Tampa Bay Times Forum.
On defense, he claimed he will preserve the world's strongest military that "no nation would ever dare to test it".
Despite his harsh campaign rhetoric on China, the GOP presidential nominee only mentioned the country twice when attacking Obama sending away jobs to China and borrowing money from Beijing.
Judging from Romney's foreign policy statement on China released before the convention, he stands largely in line with Obama except that he vows to pursue a tough trade policy toward China if elected.
A better outline of the Republican's position on foreign policy can be found from the talks of two Republicans with strong foreign-policy credentials.
Senator John McCain and former secretary of state Condoleezza Rice, speaking on the foreign-policy night of the Republican National Convention in Tampa, Florida, focused on the US role in the world and how it affects success within the country.
Both mentioned China in their speeches on Wednesday night, with Rice citing the nation five times when talking about the Middle East, trade policy and human rights.
Though McCain lost the presidential race to Obama in 2008, as the ranking minority-party member on the Senate Armed Services Committee, he remains a powerful voice on foreign policy and is known for taking a tough stand against China on security matters.
In his speech, the senator said US success at home depends on leadership in the world and that Americans must lead "from the front", not from behind.
He blamed Obama's administration for failing to continue US global leadership, especially in addressing Iran's nuclear ambitions and the civil war in Syria.
"We can't afford to give governments in Russia and China a veto over how we defend our interests and the progress of our values in the world," he said.
McCain outlined his views in an article headlined "Leading from the front" posted on Foreign Policy magazine's website this week.
"From diplomacy and trade to defense and human rights, Republicans would summon the will, the wisdom and the national confidence to lead more actively in the world — not from behind, but from the front," he wrote.
Rather than cutting the Pentagon budget, McCain wrote, a Republican government would spend heavily on defense in the face of China's military development.
"If we are serious about rebalancing our defense priorities toward the Asia-Pacific, as we must, without diminishing our readiness for other military contingencies, first and foremost in the Middle East, then we need to invest in the necessary defense capabilities to expand our military presence and relevance in the world's largest maritime theater, especially amid China's ongoing and opaque military modernization."
Rice, who served as national security adviser and then secretary of state under George W Bush, warned that US leadership is at risk and pointed out that the country should stand for free people and free markets worldwide.
In addition to a lack of leadership on Iran and Syria, the United States in the past four years has lagged behind China in striking free-trade deals with other countries, Rice said.
"If you are worried about the rise of China, just consider this: The United States has ratified only three trade agreements in the last few years, and those were negotiated in the Bush administration," she said in her speech. "China has signed 15 free-trade agreements and is in the progress of negotiating as many as 18 more."
In the run-up to November's election, Republicans and Democrats have both played up the rise of China to serve their national security and political interests, said Minxin Pei, an expert on US-China relations and professor of government at Claremont McKenna College in California.
But China is facing a series of domestic challenges, and Americans aren't aware of the "declining fortunes" of their perceived rival, Pei wrote in an article headlined "Everything you think you know about China is wrong", posted on ForeignPolicy.com on Wednesday.
"Americans' domestic perceptions influence how they see their rivals," he wrote. "It is no coincidence that the period in the 1970s and late 1980s when Americans missed signs of rivals' decline corresponded with intense dissatisfaction with US performance."
But Pei warned that rhetorical China-bashing could harm the bilateral relationship and cost Washington an opportunity to rethink its China policy for the next two decades.
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