Contributed by: Kiefer Cheng and Shiran Shen, Editors of the Global China Review
As Election Day in America Approaches, Both Candidates Struggle With the Issue of China.
Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney’s controversial advertisement, “Standing Up To China” foments the impression that China is to blame for many of America’s economic woes. Despite various differences in political stances between Governor Romney and President Obama, both candidates agree on the need to take proactive actions in dealing with China to defend American interests.
The central argument is that China has manipulated favorable market conditions (i.e. pegging the yuan, unfair market entry environment) for its manufacturing sector at the cost of well-paying American jobs. In fact, China Daily has reported that the percentage of Americans that favor building strong economic ties with China have dropped from 53% to 47%1. The most serious issues that come to mind are the large proportion of U.S. debt owned by China ($1.14 trillion), loss of U.S. jobs to China, and a U.S. trade deficit with China.
Many Americans’ resentment toward the Chinese economy is easy to understand. According to the National Bureau of Statistics, the Chinese economy grew by 7.4% in the third quarter of 2012, 55% of which was domestic consumption. In comparison, the U.S. only grew by 1.3% in Q3 of 2012 and it is likely that a slow recovery will continue.
As a result, China-bashing and distaste has inevitably spilled over into politics and decision-making in Washington. President Obama blocked Rall Corp., a Chinese owned company from taking over four northern Oregon wind farms. The U.S. government states that it is worried that the ownership of these properties possesses significant security risks given their proximity to a military base2. Another Chinese-owned company, Huawei Technologies, is labelled as posing security threats after a Congressional House committee found that the company’s telecommunications network business could be used for spying purposes.
Despite this past month’s strong tone on standing up to China, there has been a clear change in tone by both candidates during the final Presidential debate. “China’s an adversary, and also a potential partner in the international community if it’s playing by the same rules,” argued President Barack Obama.4 While Governor Mitt Romney backtracked from his earlier negative comments on China as a currency manipulator to say, “We can be a partner with China—we don’t have to be an adversary in any way…We can work with them, collaborate with them—if they’re willing to be responsible.”
Inevitably, in foreign relations, both the U.S. and China will have arguments against each other. However, the dangers of political rhetoric for Sino-American relations during this election season are likely to be short-lived. Sino-U.S. interdependence – from trade and debt to education – is such that both sides are acutely aware of the need to work together to preserve peace and mutual economic prosperity.
This monthly editorial is brought to you by The Global China Review, a semi-annual publication created by the GCC community. For more information, please e-mail Kiefer Cheng (Editor-in-chief) email@example.com. Please note that independently contributed opinions such as this do not necessarily reflect the viewpoints of the whole GCC organization.