Don’t Worry About the China Bashing
Image Credit: White House

Don’t Worry About the China Bashing


In his much-hyped remarks on trade earlier this month, U.S. President Barack Obama highlighted his administration’s efforts at targeting China’s allegedly unfair trade practices.

“Since I took office, we’ve brought trade cases against China at nearly twice the rate as the last administration, and these actions are making a difference,” Obama said at the White House on March 13 during a speech on free trade. “For example, we halted an unfair surge in Chinese tires, which has helped put over 1,000 American workers back on the job.”

The speech followed the signing of a much-publicized executive order on the establishment of an interagency trade enforcement center.  According to the order, the center will advance U.S. foreign policy and protect the national and economic security of the United States through strengthened and coordinated enforcement of U.S. trade rights under international trade agreements. 

And the U.S. hasn’t been alone in targeting China. The United States, Japan and European Union recently lodged a joint complaint with the World Trade Organization against China over its export restrictions on strategically important rare earth metals. 

All this suggests that the U.S. administration is determined to step up its campaign theme of protecting U.S. interests and pressing other nations to play by the rules. “Our competitors should be on notice,” Obama said. “You will not get away with skirting the rules.”

But Obama’s increasingly vocal criticism of China raises some interesting questions as the campaign intensifies ahead of this November’s presidential election, including the question: why now? The Chinese government’s trade and currency policies have come up regularly in recent years. Indeed, since the end of the Cold War, trade-related issues such as the debates over most-favored nation status, intellectual property rights and China’s currency valuation have been behind recurring sources of tension in the U.S.-China relationship. 

Previously, though, the U.S. government was able to adopt low-profile approaches to any problems, working quietly with the Chinese government to solve disputes.  Policymakers in the U.S. government understand that when dealing with countries such as China, intense media coverage and public attention generally do little to help resolve problems.  Which begs the question as to why Obama has decided to openly pick a fight with China on a series of trade issues – does he see a political opportunity in doing so? 

The most likely reason Obama has upped the rhetorical ante is that Sino-U.S. relations have already become a regular topic of discussion among the Republican presidential hopefuls. All of the Republican candidates have been vying with each other to sound tough on China.  And the fact is that former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney is not only the frontrunner in the Republican primary race – he has also taken an early lead in China bashing. On numerous occasions on the campaign trail, Romney has talked tough on China, accusing it of “stealing” American jobs and intellectual property. 

In his widely-read op-ed in the Wall Street Journal, meanwhile, Romney denounced China’s political system. “A nation that represses its own people cannot ultimately be a trusted partner in an international system based on economic and political freedom,” he wrote. “While it is obvious that any lasting democratic reform in China cannot be imposed from the outside, it is equally obvious that the Chinese people currently do not yet enjoy the requisite civil and political rights to turn internal dissent into effective reform.” Romney has also repeatedly vowed, if elected, to sign an executive order identifying China as a currency manipulator on his first day in office. Indeed, with the U.S. economy still sluggish, China bashing has become one of the focuses of Romney’s presidential campaign. 

Challenged by his Republican opponents over the China issue, Obama has responded swiftly, toughening his rhetoric over China’s trade and currency practices. And he has been joined by other senior officials in his administration. On March 1, for example, Vice President Joe Biden visited the battleground state of Iowa, telling voters that China is too authoritarian to ultimately beat the United States. Such remarks have underscored an important reality for 2012 – the closer the presidential election draws, the more heated the rhetoric is likely to become.

September 12, 2013 at 17:12

Hi.Who is this lung sha shou? It appears he/she is white supremacist veiled in some chinese name as if to represent native chinese. Haha..a laughing stock.

September 12, 2013 at 17:11

Who is this lung sha shou? It appears he/she is white supremacist veiled in some chinese name as if to represent native chinese. Haha..a laughing stock.

Frankie Fook-lun Leung
March 27, 2012 at 12:31

China bashing counters the soft power china tries to create by spending billions in such as the Times Square billboard, setting up CCTV in USA and Confucius institute on western campuses.

Lung Sha Shou
March 26, 2012 at 17:16

Not so Admiral

Lung Sha Shou
March 26, 2012 at 16:58

What a biased piece of nonsense. From a disingenous author serving the interests of Beijing.

FOR EXAMPLE “Yes, the two nations have different political and economic systems, and their peoples sometimes have very different world views. And these differences can lead to prejudice” – sounds all very lovely and very equal, just the sort of thing to appeal to the liberal uninformed mind – As if you could equate the two attitudes – Its a pity you can’t be honest and admit to the amount of HATRED stoked by the Ministry of Propaganda in China and how much anti-Americanism is a staple, routine position in most of the state sanctioned moutpieces.

Chinese are encouraged to nurture resentment by the party’s propaganda as a matter of course. Your dishonest attempt to explain away differences misses the crucial difference of the way Chinese prejudice against Americans and whites are fostered, and how racism is entrenched in China. I’m wrong? So a Chinese girl could easily introduce a negro boyfriend or dark Malay boyfriend to her girlfriend’s could she?

The author is obviously a mere mouthpiece for the Beijing regime.

Criticism of China is not China Bashing – you need to understand this, for a so called associate professor this should not be beyond you.

China hates criticism, saying media attention “does not help” is manifestly rubbish – perhaps it makes it slightly less likely that there will be a ridiculous response from the regime but the author is simply trying to advance the interests of the regime.

They are NOT reasonable decent or civilised . . .

Their thugs in uniform beat up buddhist monks and nuns with spiked clubs.

They butcher and sell the organs of executed prisoners with senior admisitration approval.

No they don’t like others to know of these and other crimes against humanity, nor the ruthless disregard for anyone who crosses them.

The US has assisted China more than any other nation as far back as when the lying manipulator Mao was avoiding conflict with the Japanese so that he could seize power after WWII (and starve tens of millions of is people in famines!!)

China is not above any other nation, they don’t like playing by rules which they themselves have agreed to.

The rest of the world has a system of LAW, the Chinese are used to the so called Communist Party dictating the outcome of co called “trials” in China. The rest of the world has greater respect for the law than the relatively uncivilised Chinese who think that they can call the shots.

Criticsms of China might just be deserving or long overdue, they are not all a function of other’s malicious intent or China bashing. I get sick to the stomach of this creepy dishonest approach that tries to cast any less than positive comments about China as being due to something else other that China

There is a helluva lot of USA bashing in the Chinese press by the way – would you explain that away too in terms of Chinese issues? I doubt it, you would give it great credence. What a pity you can’t do the same here.

The author of this article should write for People’s Daily or some other Red Rag.

Bohème Chinois
March 26, 2012 at 10:14

Yeah, they’re bashing China now, but in 20 years they’ll be working for China.

The Chinese will have the last laugh then.

Yang zi
March 26, 2012 at 09:55

China should do ANYTHING to please U.S and the West.

Leonard R.
March 25, 2012 at 22:24

You are correct Matthew Hall.

This writer assumes (a) that what he calls ‘China bashing’, is per se a bad thing and (b) that the readers of this article would be worried about it.

He makes both assumptions apparently without evidence. Perhaps his article was
intended for a different publication and ended up here.

Frankie Fook-lun Leung
March 25, 2012 at 05:54

No politician in US Congress bashes China as frequently or as consistently as Nancy Pelosi. Yet when she visited China, she was warmly received. Amazing.

Matthew Hall
March 25, 2012 at 05:10

This presumes people have been worried about China bashing. Outside of a tiny globally connecte elite, I can assure you they haven’t been; not in the U.S. at least.

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