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Caricature of President Obama and Governor Romney

Caricature of President Obama and Governor Romney (Courtesy of DonkeyHotey/Flickr)

Two down, two to go, and we are already getting an interesting look at how American politicians portray China. Indeed it seems that nationalism is still alive and well in the US of A and that stirring a little bit of animosity towards the “them” across the ocean is still a popular policy. But are the China bashing comments that we hear really truthful?

In the recent debates Mitt Romney and Ryan have really been the only ones to use Ant-China jargon. Comments from Romney in the first debate included the threat to “Crack down on China, if and when they cheat.” The use of the word cheat of course puts China in a negative light, and puts some blame on them for the current economic situation. Admittedly, China’s economic stance has at times and in certain ways negatively effected America. However, China is also a country which could become a huge market for American businesses in the years to come, and which has possibly saved the US from inflation through their cheap labor. All of this could still be painted in a negative light as it raises fears of China’s threat to America’s foreign policy, which shows how colonialism continues to effect not only China but America as well.

Ryan perhaps took it one step further when he said, “The vice president (Biden) himself went to China and said that he sympathized and wouldn’t second guess their (China’s) one child policy of forced abortions and sterilization.” These words may not have been completely true and assume that the American public agrees that a Chinese policy they know almost nothing about is a bad one. On a national level the one child policy has at worst expedited problems that appear to be a common issue with either modernizing countries (e.g., greying population) or Asian countries (e.g., gender imbalance). On the personal level the policy brings up questions about individual freedom, and of course this is at the heart of Ryan‘s attack.

Interestingly, both President Obama and Biden have kept away from negative comments about China in these debates. Obama did not mention China once in the first debate and Biden‘s mentioning of them always came with the word “ally” somewhere nearby. This should be applauded as verbal attacks on a foreign country to which we are at times on fragile terms with are not helpful for America’s foreign policy. Democrats have however shown some ridiculous fears concerning Romney‘s connection with China, and President Obama has also stepped up anti-China rhetoric in some situations.

The ultimate question is will either of these candidates really do anything about these issues, or will they continue to point to the giant rising in the east as the source for all our problems?