原文标题：The China-bashing syndrome
IT IS a truth universally acknowledged that a man in possession of a major American political party’s presidential nomination must be in want of a more assertive policy on China. Bill Clinton upbraided George Bush senior for “coddling dictators”; Mr Bush’s son went on to accuse Mr Clinton, when president, of much the same thing. Barack Obama, during his first presidential campaign, called the younger Mr Bush “a patsy” in his dealings with China. Now it is Mitt Romney’s turn: in February he described Mr Obama as a “near supplicant to Beijing”.
Mr Romney, as befits the author of a book called “No Apology: The Case for American Greatness”, says that if elected he would not hesitate to put China in its place. On his first day in office, no less, he has pledged to declare it a currency manipulator, a step that could lead to across-the-board tariff increases on Chinese imports. More broadly, he says he will force China to play by the rules of international trade and investment: no more theft of intellectual property, no more unfair subsidies for state-owned firms, no more predatory pricing. And economics is not his only concern: he promises to chastise China more loudly for its human-rights abuses and to bolster America’s armed forces to counteract China’s growing military clout.
As in most things, Mr Romney’s China-bashing seems studied and methodical. He would like rich countries to impose “intellectual-property sanctions” on China, to prevent it from acquiring the advanced technology behind such things as passenger jets until it stops pilfering foreign know-how. Under the heading “Confront China Directly”, his website pledges to end government procurement from China until China provides reciprocal access to American firms. Taiwan, he says, should be allowed to buy whatever weapons it wants. Meanwhile America’s navy, he calculates, needs to build an extra six ships a year to handle all the challenges it faces, including an uppity China.
Mr Romney mocks the suggestion that he is gunning for a trade war (let alone a conventional one). An undeclared conflict is already under way, he suggests, and China is winning. Moreover, if America imposed punitive tariffs on Chinese goods, he argues, China would not dare to retaliate in kind because it has more to lose from an escalation in hostilities. China is selling America, he notes, $273 billion more per year than America is selling to China. “If you’re not willing to stand up to China, you’ll get run over by China,” he insists.
The obvious response to all this is to shrug. Candidates may rage about China on the campaign trail, but when in office they become more temperate. Four years ago Mr Obama promised to do just as Mr Romney now demands, and label China a currency manipulator. Twice a year since then he has passed up the opportunity to do so. In part, that is because China’s currency has been appreciating in recent years, and its global trade surplus shrinking. But mainly it is because picking a fight with an all-important trading partner, and the biggest foreign holder of American public debt, does not seem a bright idea when you are the one who will be blamed for the economic consequences.
If even a former community organiser shies away from a showdown with China, the assumption runs, then a pin-striped man of finance certainly will. There are plenty of ways out of the hole Mr Romney has dug for himself. He could say that as a result of the pressure he has brought to bear, China has made such great strides that the penalties he envisaged are no longer warranted. Or he could keep his pledge, and brand it a manipulator, while making sure that the bureaucratic procedure that would then follow did not lead to any actual retribution. So far, there does not seem to be much sense of alarm emanating from Beijing. Even as Mr Romney was cranking up his rhetoric earlier this year, the man who is expected to become China’s next president, Xi Jinping, visited Washington and described ties between his country and America as “an unstoppable river that keeps surging ahead”.
Words have consequences, too
In fact, the risks could be a lot greater than that. China, like America is in the middle of a transition of leadership; and being branded as a manipulator could easily risk a nasty response. For another thing, Mr Romney’s words set up a dynamic whereby candidates try to outdo one another with their China-bashing. Earlier this month, when the administration unveiled a complaint about Chinese car tariffs before the WTO, the president’s campaign proudly noted that he had initiated such proceedings twice as often as his predecessor. The Republican Party immediately retorted that Mr Obama was nonetheless a late convert to the cause, and should have been challenging China more often.
Indeed, fewer and fewer Republicans are letting their supposed belief in free trade interfere with an easy shot at the president. Mr Romney is actually among the milder ones. Donald Trump, while flirting with a run for the Republican nomination last year, said, “China is raping this country.” Newt Gingrich, who did run, argued at a debate among candidates that it was important “to dramatically raise the pain level for the Chinese cheating”. Michele Bachmann, another candidate, quipped that China’s purchases of American Treasury bills brought a whole new meaning to the phrase “Hu’s your daddy?”
The trouble with such talk is that it reinforces the feeling among China’s leaders that America is out to thwart their country’s “peaceful rise”. The fact that both parties are happy to portray China as the bogeyman of globalisation creates an impression of uniform hostility. That, in turn, undermines America’s message that China is unduly paranoid and defensive. It also disenfranchises those American voters who would like to express a more optimistic view of the consequences of commerce.
确实，越来越少的共和党人会让他们对自由贸易的信仰妨碍对总统的低成本的攻击。罗姆尼是较温和的一个。 唐纳德·特朗普去年客串竞选共和党提名人时说：“中国正在强奸美国。”纽特·金里奇参与了竞选，他在一个辩论中声称非常需要“急剧提高中国为欺骗而遭受的痛苦程度”。另一名叫米歇尔·巴克曼的候选人嘲笑中国购买美国国债给“谁是你的老爸？（胡是你老爸？）”这句话带来了全新的意思【译者注：Hu 和 Who 发音相同】
Jay-man July 20th, 20:07
There is absolutely no balanced information about the Chinese or China in America. It makes it easier to demonize someone when your audience is ignorant about the subject.
The only time China is ever mentioned in the U.S. media is when something ugly happens that corresponds to the media’s narrative of China being a dark, ugly place that persecutes it’s people, or a politician uses it as a strawman to push some twisted logic, or change the subject.
China has a media problem, and it always will as long as it remains suspicious of them, and from what I see of the media in the U.S., I don’t blame them for being very cautious of the media.
PL123 in reply to Jay-man July 20th, 21:00
China has an image problem, but America has a factual problem. As you said there is only one-side story, where is the facts!
And when you measure China with your standard, then China is always wrong, same as using Chinese standard to judge you.
tocharian in reply to Jay-man July 21st, 04:36
You’re right. I think Mingze (aka Mimi) Xi and Guagua Bo both students at Harvard should raise their voices and be more visible in the mainstream media (CNN, Fox News etc.) to educate the American public about the ideological views of the Communist Party of China. In case you don’t know, Mingze (alias Mimi) is the daughter of Jinping Xi (the next President of China) and Guaguagua is the son of the infamous Xilai Bo (the fallen princeling war-lord of Chongqing)
PL123 in reply to Devils Advocate_1 3 hours 56 mins ago
The is old news. Suu Kyi was an earlier Asian princeling who went to a top Western university and ended up being impregnated by a Western Y-chromosome as well.
😀 😀 😀 😀
KEN0123 July 20th, 19:42
There were some sayings : The thiefs usually call “THIEFS” to divert the attentions from their own stealings!..Likewise the U.S.A has done all these evil deeds long before the other countries copy it! And now it is U.S.A. that is crying!! Go Figure!
insidious western media in reply to KEN0123 July 20th, 21:53
It’s called, “tackle football mentality !” No, you need not run faster, or strive harder than your opponent. All you have to do is, like Larry ‘the refrigerator’, push him to the ground. Debilitate or sling mud at him, and you win!
In the 1980s, the Japanese were the bogeymen then. We frequently witnessed Japan- and Japanese-bashing in the media, in Congress and even in school (one of my professors was transferred after making the same kind of complaints of currency manipulations amd cross-country pricing finangling against the Japanese saibatzus).
Their firms were always taken to court, ie Hitachi. The lawyers for Hitachi complained after the $1 billion verdict that the purpose was no longer punitive, but to debilitate the competition.
KEN0123 in reply to insidious western media July 20th, 22:43
Buddy! You have said it MUCH BETTER than what i can say! Thanks!
guest-isawjis July 20th, 19:27
Glad to see something sensible in the Economist.
nkab July 20th, 09:36
Whoever is doing it, bashing is a sure sign of uncertain mind and an admission of weakness on the part of basher, for no one is a hero to its debator, and that’s well given.
It’a time to move on—“Non ragionam di lor, ma guarda e passa”.
guest-iwanjee July 20th, 06:35
Mr Romney is also in need to Chinese people if he could make his claims true, especially the part of cutting subsidies of state-own companies and protection of intellectual property, etc.
east wind July 20th, 03:04
Old English proverb=== a bad workman blames his tools”
Sure,— all the American Presidents had over-spent — squandering Trillions on wars, useless projects
SPEND, spend , spend ….spend like there is no tommorow
AND when the pantry is empty — BLAME CHINA
Just blame China…
Simply— and the beauty is that the American folks just buy the story
IF the American people are not willing to face the truth as to why they are in economic trouble—then we dont see much hope that the problems can be resolved
They just dont have the Balls to face up to reality — which is to seek the truth and then the remedy
For starters — America is A “POST-INDUSTRIAL” Nation— does anybody knows what this means ????
E Pluribus Unum in reply to east wind July 20th, 21:40
“For starters — America is A “POST-INDUSTRIAL” Nation— does anybody knows what this means ????”
Do you know what it means? You are talking about the largest Economy on the planet and the 3rd. largest exporter of goods and services.
Don’t embarass yourself by publicly showing off your half knowledge.
E Pluribus Unum July 19th, 16:18
It could be so easy… just leave everything with the label “Made in China” at your local Walmart.
Don’t buy those Nike sneakers but go for NewBalance, Made in the US. Look online for alternative products made right here.
It costs a little of your time, but if you buy American, the job you save might be your own.
Jean Michel in reply to E Pluribus Unum July 19th, 20:56
You wrote: “…but if you buy American, the job you save might be your own.”
And the extra money you have to pay for them will be your own too. Moreover, for many products, you will not find the American-made counterparts. Then, you must resign to go without them and you will console yourself by imagining that you will buy them some time in the future when they will be available on the shelves.
happyfish18 in reply to E Pluribus Unum July 20th, 02:49
People need choices – let them do their talkings with their wallets.
JYoung63 in reply to E Pluribus Unum July 20th, 17:40
Perhaps we should better understand the correlation between international trade and standard of living. Although Americans no longer enjoy being #1 in standard of living, at least they are still high up in the ranking. And the standard of living today in America has a lot to do with the international trade (with China) as well as its trade deficit. Americans have been benefited by the low-price imports that improve their living. At the same time, the deficit means that Americans are not able to produce enough to generate the money to pay for these importing goods (even its relatively cheap) from China and the likes. A good portions of these imports are paid by credit. And who finance the Americans? China, Japan, Germany — the countries who own the US Treasury Bonds.
Since USA is such a democratic advancement, people have the total “freedom” to not buying imports. But most of the Americans actually have little choice due to the lack of “economic freedom”. In other words, most Americans do not want to give up their (material) quality of living. They want the Blue-ray, the Lexus, the cool toys for the kids, and the iPhone, etc. Blind patriotism does not work in capitalism. The “Made in America” campaign may sound cool. It is actually against the human nature and the reality of free international trades.
guest-isawjis in reply to E Pluribus Unum July 20th, 19:31
FYI, out of the four different models of NewBalance walking shoes that I have purchased, only one is made in the U.S. “with imported materials” (and you know what that means). The rest are all made in China.
E Pluribus Unum in reply to guest-isawjis July 20th, 21:33
Maybe you shouldn’t get the cheapest sneakers. Try the 993’s.
They are 100% made in the USA, they even come with a flyer that informs the customer where it was made and that NB is supporting the American worker.
As I said already… Do your homework and leave everything with the label “Made in China” at Walmart.
That’s what I do.
E Pluribus Unum in reply to JYoung63 July 20th, 21:36
You wrote: Since USA is such a democratic advancement, people have the total “freedom” to not buying imports.
You are right about the deficit. That’s another reason not to buy Chinese products.
If people would start to realize that the job they save and support by buying American might be their own, we will be better off.
Although, my hopes are not very high…
tocharian in reply to happyfish18 July 21st, 04:31
You are soo right. People need choices. That’swhy Mingze (aka Mimi) Xi and Guagua Bo are at Harvard. It was the choice of their fathers Jinping Xi (the new President of China) and Xilai Bo (the fallen princelin war-lord of Chongqing)
JYoung63 in reply to E Pluribus Unum July 21st, 06:46
The worst way of reading is to focus on the sentence you want to see and ignore the rest of the contents.
People have as much freedom of not buying imports, as buying things regardless of country of origin.
If New Balance is such a “Made in America” company, why not all of their models to be made in America with local materials. To pick one item to label it, is just a cheap publicity act. I say go to hell.
You may think protectionism is fine. So American only buy “Made in USA”. How about let’s protect our state and Californian only buy “Made in California?”? No no no. Should be “Made in Santa Clara County” to protect our local county. What else, we should stop trading in order to protect my village, so that we can build everything within my town…
Trades or international trades, is a result of specialization and mass production, in order to maximize the collective productivity. This is economic 101 (or 102). If buying only local made products are so good for a country, why didn’t we see all nations just close the borders and stop all trading with the others? We can go back to the tribal life style and standard.
justanobserver July 19th, 15:58
If you want to see America or Japan bashing, just read the Chinese papers.
livefromCA2 in reply to justanobserver July 19th, 17:55
Yes we are interested, give a link please, where it is doing American bashing.
ztoa789 in reply to class war July 20th, 01:32
Free speech is a heady thing. China should try it.
Try to say something that your “free” media doesn’t like.
Have you heard that B.C. First Nations ask China to raise human rights with Harper ?
自由言论是让人兴奋的事情。中国应该试一试。说一说你们的“自由”媒体不喜欢的事情。你听说过B.C First Nations请求中国就认全问题向加拿大总理哈帕施压吗？【译者注：B.C. First Nation是加拿大土著居民联盟，认为加政府不尊重其认全，胡哥访加拿大时，提出抗议】
PL123 in reply to ztoa789 July 20th, 17:02
I heard of it, it is funny and lovely…
KACEY1 July 19th, 14:38
Romney should spend more time to deal the coming financial meltdown, instead of bashing China.
45 cents of every dollar Federal Government spend is deficits, total Federal Government is 16 trillion dollar that is higher than GDP.
If interest rate increased to 10%, federal government will not have enough money to pay just the interest of the federal government debts. There will be no money for defense, no money for social security, no money to pay Medicare, no money to pay anything.
10 year bond yield is 1.46% and the Federal Government already paying 400 billion dollar for interest payment.
This time bomb is ticking….. The only thing Obama knows how to do is print money to buy vote?
Federal Reserve Bank has 5 trillion debts on its book, Federal Reserve Bank is buying most of the treasury bills; this is creating money from thin air. How long can that last?
Bush had government bailout one, Obama had bailout two, Federal Reserve Bank had QE one, QE two, operational twist one, operation twist two, etc…. more are coming.
Every American is a negative millionaire, if you add the federal government deficits, state/county/city deficits, underfunded Medicare, underfunded social security, credit cards debts, student loans, etc….
Banks are too big to fail, so we privatize profits and socialize losses. Politicians are doing everything to get elected. Rich and powerful are getting rich on the back of this country; they are killing the working stiffs…. The Wall Street still pay out hundreds of billions of bonus in 2011, highest bonus ever….
President George W. Bush created more government deficits than all the previous presidents combined and President Obama is creating more government deficit than the previous president combined.
The captains of the ‘west’ can delay it, but, can not be stopped, unless fundamental changes are made.
How long can this last? Chicken will come home to roast some day?
You can only kick the ‘can’ down the road for so long, until there are too many ‘can’. Someone, somehow, someday has to deal with this craziness sooner or later. I see big problem coming….
What a sad joke!
Jean Michel in reply to KACEY1 July 19th, 16:48
If the US stopped financing the activities of agencies and so-called activists who try to subvert foreign governments like China, the US Government would save a at least one hundred million dollars per year.
If the US closed down all its bases in foreign countries, it would save another half billion dollars per year.
If the US decided not to invade and bomb foreign countries unless it were attacked, it would save close to one billion dollars per year.
YanHuang July 19th, 07:35
I’m from China and I will never blame those American politicians for saying bad things about China. Instead, I will pity them because they just have to act so much and lie too much to the people and then they would be blamed for acting and lying. Our leaders on the other hand never really have to say much. Democracy is just so cruel for politicians.
ztoa789 in reply to YanHuang July 19th, 11:23
Politicians dare not say anything that “free” media doesn’t like, otherwise their political career is over.
Obama once said “We can’t work like some countries (China)” when he tried to push the plan of high-speed railroad.
Obviously, he saw some positive sides in China, but HE DARE NOT SAY HIS MIND. Even so, still some “free” media tagged him as a “socialist”, which is automatically bad, no explanation is need, just like in China during 60s, anything related to “capital” is bad.
justanobserver in reply to YanHuang July 19th, 14:16
Thing is, your leaders in China just tell you the good news, not the bad. I read the Chinese English-language news and can safely say that anything that does not portray China in a good light is simply ignored. Believe it or not, because of its actions and inept foreign policy, China is universally regarded with suspicion and mistrust, and yet always wonders why it never gets the “respect it demands. Unfortunately, in any kind of dispute with any country over anything, Chinese citizens only hear one side of the story (China’s). Dissenting opinions are not allowed.
sunnydaytoday in reply to justanobserver July 19th, 15:56
China has 1.3 billion people and innumerable events happen there every day. How can the government hide everything to its citizen? If China is universally regarded with suspicion and mistrust, I’m afraid another country might also be accused of being officious and green-eyed by telling its citizens only one side of China (political wise).
PL123 in reply to justanobserver July 19th, 18:20
That means American produced only bad news, or “Threat” from outside, so American soldiers can be sent out to kill any innocent babies, civilists with Drones or bombs!
On the other hand, opinions other than anti-China is not welcome. Because it doesn’t sell paper!! LOL
ztoa789 in reply to justanobserver July 19th, 19:19
There are some people in china whose job is bashing ccp daily. So chinese can hear both side of the stories.
Do you hear any different stories from your media?
All you hear from them are:
(1) government is your b1tch.
(2) why doesn’t the b1tch deliver?
And you take such self-conflict crap without one blink of your eyes.
livefromCA2 in reply to YanHuang July 19th, 17:56
That is because your “leaders” do not have to answer to you nor listen to you. LOL
ztoa789 in reply to livefromCA2 July 19th, 19:06
You are badly brainwashed.
Before 1960, people’s anger was mostly towards the rich.
Now always towards government because the “free media” told them so.
Don’t believe? Go try staging a protest aiming at the rich, see what you get.
wait a minute, we already know, don’t we?
JYoung63 in reply to ewakorn July 19th, 02:42
Would you mind providing me the link to this “massive praise” to Gary Locke? It’s better to read the whole article first.
YanHuang in reply to ewakorn July 19th, 06:45
And the loss of credibility of a government clearly indicates that our country is becoming more democratic. In North Korea, nobody will distrust the government. But in America, it’s like “Hey, we didn’t actually got on to the moon, the government is cheating” “Hey, those politicians are never going to achieve what they promised, they are just all fake！”
So I was rather glad about “rumors circulating,” at least it reveals an improvement on the freedom of speech.
JYoung63 in reply to ewakorn July 19th, 06:47
I read the China Daily article on July 3, which is about Gary Locke and family toured in Guilin. Article says:
” The Locke family joined a tour group without any bodyguards escorting them. Many Chinese netizens were quick to praise their low-profile manner and contrasted it with the lavish trips made by some Chinese government officials. In fact, what we can see from the Locke’s trip is a simple lifestyle, which has nothing to do with the institutional differences between China and the United States. ”
Do not see any contents related to Chen Guangcheng. Perhaps you just blindly mix up things to suit your wish? LOL.
PL123 in reply to ewakorn July 19th, 18:31
I think the Chinese are very clear Locke is not a Chinese but a pure American, perhaps more American than Huntsman!
commonsensicalJuly 17th, 16:59
“Both parties are cranking up their rhetoric against the world’s second-largest economy”
It’s just RHETORIC. Don’t be overly sensitive and read too much into it.
Unless there is a major shift (highly unlikely!), there are huge economic interests that are vested in maintaining the status quo (e.g. any imposition of import tariffs would be a BIG no-no) not to mention there are some “useful idiots” who are fanatic about free trade on the Right.
Marchants may not decide “grand strategy” but they sure lobby and influence the day-to-day running of foreign affairs. So barring any catastrophic events, I don’t expect any change in the relationship with the dragon in the next administration. And I will just ignore the rhetoric especially the one coming from Romney who I sometimes doubt has ANY position on ANYTHING, a politician’s POLITICIAN!
Vivek RainaJuly 17th, 16:05
Isnt there some truth in what the leaders are saying about china… just because the american corporations are benefiting from chinese low cost labour and resource pool… a lot is being overlooked.. that is wrong.. and borders on immoral…the leaders alas are for once reflecting the true sentiments of the people they represent.. hope they realize it once the are elected.
happyfish18 in reply to Vivek RainaJuly 18th, 02:25
According to Obama, Romney if elected will creat 800K new jobs. But according to him, the jobs will be China, India, Mexico etc. Outsourcing is increasingly under the politicians microscope because other types of jobs are not being created fast enough for the people coming into the job market. In fact, those job which the Brainic Indians are doing are easier to bring back.
GeoPolThinkerJuly 17th, 13:56
That the Economist complains about bashing Communist China is not surprising. The Economist also opposed the bashing of Nazi Germany in the 1930s. Now that the Reds have become fascists and it is possible to do business with them, the classical liberals are in full appeasement mode again. It was Winston Churchill who warned way ahead of anyone else of the growing economic capabilities of Hitler’s Reich “with her factories equipped to the very latest point of science by British and American money” and that “Germany only awaits trade revival to gain an immense mercantile ascendancy throughout the world.” Churchill understood that it was folly to increase the resources of a regime whose foreign policies were at odds with the interests of his own country. But strategic consequences mean nothing to modern corporations that no longer feel any national loyalties. Chinese money is perfectly fine, the blood can be easily washed off (or simply ignored).
JYoung63 in reply to GeoPolThinkerJuly 18th, 01:28
Nazi Germany was established based in idea of cracial supremacy and invasion, until conquering the whole world. Today, USA is more dangerous to the world, than China. USA is the military bully that would invade when they “feel” to. The latest Iraq War is a good example because Mr. GW Bush felt so. In the contrary, did China invade any countries in the past 50 years? Tibet issue can be raised. But it is a historic sovernty matter, that would include the Taiwan issue too. These are more the political issues as well as historic issues, comparing to the more foreign intervention/invasion by the US.
I am sure USA’s military acts in foreign soil might have some merits that can be explained by international politics. My point is that I do not see China really threatening the world militarily. For a country as big as China, we cannot expect that they will keep a small military. This is proportion to the size of country and it’s length of border to be defended.
On the other hand, USA should have concerns about China’s rapidly growing economic power. Put military aside, the economic power is what can conquer the world in the future. In WTO model, it would be getting harder to try defending foreign economic power. Therefore, the focus should be to improve your own economic power to compete, assuming the WTO will help making the playground fair. China has joined the WTO for a short few years only and will be forced to play fair. I hope I am not naive to expect WTO is the rule of the game.
criticalobserverJuly 16th, 10:27
It is clear to me that the US does not bash ‘failed states’. China is being bashed because she is so successful. During the past thirty years, China has demonstrated that her political system is superior to Western style democracy and ‘Washington Consensus’ is being rejected universally. This hurts !!
guest-wnjmlss in reply to criticalobserverJuly 16th, 14:42
her political system is better than Western style democracy? I really hope this is tongue in cheek.
Are you sure you are allowed to be on the computer? Big brother might be watching.
livefromCA2 in reply to criticalobserverJuly 16th, 18:37
I don’t know why the Chinese have gained so much confidence and are ready to dismiss capitalism so quickly, after all the Chinese economy is capitalistic. The BRICs are decades if not more away from western civilization, even western countries may never be able to achieve the same living standard as the Americans.
Where is the humbleness? The financial crisis will go away and you never know when the table will turn.