Campaign 'China-bashing' a sign of things to come

Updated: 2012-10-16 08:09

By Wang Chenyan in Beijing and Tan Yingzi in Washington (China Daily)

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Experts say tough talk could harm bilateral relations in the long run

China-bashing is fiercer in the 2012 US presidential election than any previous election campaign, with both the Republican and the Democratic candidates attacking China, observers said.

Experts also warned that bipartisan hostility toward China in the US presidential election will not help the country's slow economic recovery and could even be harmful to relations between the two nations in the long run.

On Friday, Mitt Romney, Republican presidential nominee claimed he would "label China a currency manipulator" on "day one" of his presidency, and accused the Obama administration of "passing the buck" after the US Treasury Department delayed releasing a report on international trade and exchange rates in which they would have had to say whether China was a currency manipulator.

Campaign 'China-bashing' a sign of things to come

US Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney and President Barack Obama wave to the audience during the first presidential debate at the University of Denver in Colorado on Oct 3. Charlie Neibergall / Associated Press

Harsh criticism of China has been prevalent in this year's US presidential campaign, although it is not unusual for US presidential candidates to have a harder stance during the election campaign but revert to a milder policy afterward.

Ronald Reagan repeatedly criticized Jimmy Carter for establishing diplomatic relations with Beijing. However, bilateral relations between Beijing and Washington during the Reagan administration worked exceptionally well.

It was a similar situation with Bill Clinton, who promised to stand up to China on both trade and human rights issues in the 1992 campaign, but trade between the two countries expanded rapidly after he took office.

Analysis in some Western media, however, suggests that the campaign hostility toward China could be more than a political gesture.

Romney has appointed several advisers who are famously anti-China, such as John Bolton, the former US ambassador to the UN.

This week a report labeling Chinese telecommunication companies Huawei and ZTE as national security threats may suggest a change in the Obama administration's policy tone.

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Experts said China bashing is "inevitable" for the US presidential candidates to win more voters.

Romney has denounced the Obama administration for being "a near-supplicant to Beijing" on trade and human right issues. An Obama campaign advertisement accused the Republican nominee of transporting US jobs to China when he worked for Bain Capital financial group. Democrats also charge that Romney as president would not protect US firms when competing with Chinese rivals.

"The slow recovery in the US has been the consequence of an unbalanced economic structure. Washington has focused on the 'new economy' or the virtual economy for years while its manufacturing industry is withering. And all the past Republican and Democratic administrations should be blamed. But it is hard for candidates to blame the past, so they just picked up 'China' as a convenient excuse," said Qu Xing, president of the China Institute of International Studies.

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