Obama and Romney
Best Not 'Go Too Far' Bashing China (Xinhua, People's Republic of China)
Obama and Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney putting the wellbeing of
their nation at risk by bashing China at every turn? According to columnist Liu
Jie of China's state-run Xinhua, both candidates are proving themselves poor partners for
the People's Republic of China, and must take care not to 'go too far' with
their careless accusations and threats.
The Debates are over: Republican nominee Mitt Romney and President Barack Obama shake hands at the end of the third and final debate, this one on foreign policy. Eighteen foreign countries were mentioned during the clash, and not counting Russia, only one of them was in Europe - Greece.
BEIJING: In the last of three U.S. presidential debates,
both candidates for the first time framed China as a partner, offering a speck
of belated comfort to a country that had been portrayed in their two previous
face-offs as a monetary cheat and job thief.
In Tuesday's finale, the candidates showed a bit of comradery
by stopping short of completely vilifying China: Barack Obama admitted,
"China is both an adversary but also a potential partner"; and Mitt
Romney, fond of bashing China, said, "We can be a partner with China. We
don't have to be an adversary in any way, shape or form."
A few relieving words. But they will be quickly overshadowed
by the traditional campaign tricks of using ill-grounded hypotheses and scapegoating.
The U.S. president-in-waiting, whoever is elected, will lack a deep enough understanding
of how partners should treat one another.
The two candidates continue to compete to see who can flex
their muscles on China more. Romney repeated his threat to designate China a "currency
manipulator" and punish it for intellectual property theft, while Obama
continued to parade his "trophy" achievements: doubling U.S. exports
to China, the most advantageous exchange rates to American business since 1993,
and a special task force focusing on trade.
During the campaign, regardless of the facts of the matter, both
have relentlessly blamed China to cover up for their own incapacity to get America's
domestic economy back on track. It is a tactic that only serves to expose the
world's superpower as bereft of ways to address its real problems.
Bashing China as a way of scoring political points is so
much easier than finding real solutions.
Unsurprisingly, the presidential debate became a vanity fair
for people competing to denigrate China. This has little to do with China, and
everything to do with the world superpower's loss of competitiveness.
Both candidates vowed to "put significant pressure"
on China to make it play by the rules. They should know that such rules have
never been based on pressure, but on candid talks and concessions, which take
mutual benefit into account.
Rules are not only important to America, but to China. Even
Obama acknowledges that China has altered its exchange rates, that the yuan has appreciated by at least 31 percent since 2005, and
that U.S. exports to China have doubled during his tenure.
A more balanced currency regime not only serves to balance
trade, but helps restructure and improve China's exports, a development that is
in the interests of the nation.
While amending its own behavior, China must stay on course
and not surrender. The yuan's more than 30 percent appreciation has generated
positive results, both in China and the United States. But going any further
down that path will run counter to China's fundamental economic interests - a
move that will be blocked without hesitation by the Chinese government and people.
As the world's sole superpower, in arenas ranging from trade
to the military, the United States is the chief author of today's global rules.
It can file cases with the World Trade Organization whenever it feels a
situation is beyond its control. It can also block emerging Chinese companies
with excuses based on "threatening national security" - even when
such accusations are groundless.
One thing President Obama should never do is use
out-of-context results to defend his record addressing trade with China. He
said tariffs against Chinese tires created U.S. jobs, but he omitted the other
less-pleasant side effects: according to the Peterson
Institute for International Economics, U.S. consumers paid $1.1 billion
more for tires thanks to the move.
Meanwhile, although 2010 U.S. tire imports from China declined
by nearly 23.6 percent from 2009, overall imports jumped by more than 20.2
percent, a fact that doesn't exactly bode well for American jobs.
Romney, who has been unusually truculent toward China, appears
to have decided that his stance in the first two debates was too aggressive, and
toned things down in the final round, dismissing suggestions that he would
start a trade war.
Fortunately, it seems that the game of China-bashing has yet
to spin out of control. The millionaire who once profited handsomely from doing
business with China knows that the world's two largest economies, who carry on
trade equal to nearly $500 billion a year, cannot afford the backlash of
tit-for-tat tariffs and an all-out economic war.
Romney stated, "We can be a partner with China. We can
work with them, collaborate with them if they're willing to be
responsible." Romney should be reminded that partners must be responsible
for each other.
When it comes to bashing China, the candidates should be
mindful no to go too far. If they do so to win votes, the specificity of their
promises will leave them little room to maneuver once getting onto office.
In any event, whoever wind can be expected to wriggle out of
any tough promises on China they have made between Election Day and the
inauguration. If so, why bother wasting time and resources by firing away in
the first place?