Romney, Obama, Santorium & crew re: China.

Posted on February 24, 2012

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With the war in Iraq formally coming to a close & the war in Afghanistan seemingly set-up to run on ad-infinitum, many people were surprised(myself not one of them) that the United States redirected a large portion of its defense spending to focus on the Asian-Pacific region. “What threats lie among the this region?” some taxpayers might be asking themselves, especially since some expect to receive a “peace dividend” from the war ending in Iraq.

By and large the defense spending seems to focus on firming up the encirclement around China through better military cooperation with Taiwan, Thailand, Indonesia, Philipines, Japan, South Korea & Vietnam. Of course China views this as provocative and aggressive behavior on behalf of the U.S. but one can’t help to think the Chinese can’t be that surprised given the military strength of the U.S.

In short, the U.S. can refocus themselves on China because no one can tell them not to. No one prevented the U.S. from any of its strategic moves in the middle east and many Asian-Pacific countries are looking for a partner to offset what they view(right or wrongly) as Chinese aggression.

All of this got me thinking…do I really know what any of these lackey candidates for president actually think of China? Where do they stand on U.S. foreign policy regarding China? It will be very important how the next several U.S. presidents manage Taiwan’s relationship with China & China’s increasing incorporation into Globalization 2.0.

Part of my regular reading on such topics includes a stop at www.cfr.org. Here I found what I was looking for…how our candidates feel about the ‘Rising Red Dragon.’

Campaign 2012: The Candidates on U.S. Policy toward China

President Obama came into office seeking a cooperative relationship with China. In 2009, his administration launched the U.S.-China Strategic and Economic Dialogue for discussion of trade and other issues, which Secretary of State Hillary Clinton called “the beginning of an unprecedented effort to lay the foundation for a positive, cooperative, and comprehensive U.S.-Chinese relationship for the twenty-first century.”

Obama said during a January 2011 state visit by Chinese President Hu Jintao: “In an interconnected world, in a global economy, nations–including our own–will be more prosperous and more secure when we work together.”

Yet the president has criticized China on its currency policies (BBC) and the administration has confirmed a $5.8 billion arms sale package (Defense News) for Taiwan. On an Asia trip in November 2011, Obama announced plans for an expanded U.S. Marine presence in Australia and with Asian leaders, and confronted China (NYT) about its claims to disputed resources in the South China Sea.

Pirated and counterfeit goods have also been a source of contention. During his 2012 State of the Union address, Obama announced the creation of a Trade Enforcement Unit to investigate “unfair trading practices in countries like China.” He also noted that his administration had brought trade cases against China at nearly twice the rate of President George W. Bush’s administration. In February 2012, Obama met with China’s vice president, Xi Jinping, pressing the issue of trade policy and human rights.
 

Newt Gingrich
Republican Candidate

Gingrich favors promoting economic ties while taking a strong stand against human rights abuses in China and elsewhere (ABC). “We should be pressuring everywhere,” he said, “including Russia, including China, including Cuba. We should be pushing steadily and saying, ‘America stands for freedom.'”

He also advocates student exchanges and tourism. He told PBS, “If the Chinese people and the American people end up as friends we will have a safer, freer and more prosperous planet.”

On the Fox program Hannity, Gingrich argued that the United States should worry more about itself than about China’s policies. “If we do the right things in America, we can compete with China and India for the next 100 years,” he said.
 

Ron Paul
Republican Candidate

Rep. Paul (R-TX) supports free trade with China and noninterference with China’s internal affairs. “We’re much better off talking to the Chinese and trading with the Chinese,” Paul says. He is skeptical that trade imbalances between the United States and China can be addressed by strengthening the yuan relative to the dollar.

Opposing the Currency Reform for Fair Trade Act, which aimed to crack down on countries like China with undervalued currencies, he said lawmakers needed to consider the benefits of U.S.-China trade, “one of which is that American consumers benefit from lower-priced goods. Adopting the policy urged by supporters of this bill would cause consumer prices to increase, thus reducing consumers’ wealth.”

In December 2010, Paul opposed a resolution condemning China’s crackdown on Nobel Prize – winning Chinese democracy advocate Liu Xiaobo. “I do not believe it is our place, as members of the U.S. Congress, to dictate internal policy to the Chinese government,” he said on the House floor.
 

Mitt Romney
Republican Candidate

Romney promotes a U.S. policy toward China that encourages “Beijing to embark on a course that makes conflict less likely and continues to allow cooperation with the United States, economic opportunity, and democratic freedom to flourish across East Asia.” He advocates strong military capability in the Pacific, deepening cooperation with India and other regional allies, a strong defense of human rights, and incentivizing China to pursue fair free trade policies.

In an op-ed in the Washington Post in October 2011, Romney wrote that China systematically exploits other economies by enabling theft of intellectual property, and favoring and subsidizing domestic producers. In an October 2011 Republican debate Romney said as president he would issue an executive order declaring China a currency manipulator.

In the Republican foreign policy debate in November 2011, Romney said the United States has leverage over China that it could use to demand better trading terms. In an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal, Romney laid out a vision for dealing with China in the economic, military, and human rights arenas. Romney said that it was necessary to “directly counter abusive Chinese practices in the areas of trade, intellectual property, and currency valuation,” and that he would designate China as a currency manipulator on his first day of his presidency unless China “changes its ways.”

He also cited the need for a strong military presence in the region and the necessity of supporting dissidents as well as speaking out against China’s one-child policy. In a February 2012 speech, Romney called China’s one-child policy “barbaric.”
 

Rick Santorum
Republican Candidate

Santorum sees China as part of a “gathering storm” of security threats facing the United States, including Iran and Venezuela, he told Secure Freedom Radio in June 2011. He would like to see the United States take a stronger stand with China and wants to rebuild the United States so that it can be a stronger player on the world stage.

In an October 2011 Republican debate, Santorum said in reference to trade issues with China, “I don’t want to go to a trade war, I want to beat China.”

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