Skip to main content

Obama, Romney's 'China bashing' grates Chinese netizens

By Madison Park, CNN
updated 6:48 AM EDT, Mon October 22, 2012
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • During second debate, Obama, Romney talked tough on China
  • Monday's debate will focus entirely on foreign policy, China expected to surface
  • Chineze netizens decry what they say is blaming China for U.S. economic woes

Hong Kong (CNN) -- President Obama and Mitt Romney have turned China into an election-year flashpoint, with both candidates talking tough and putting some of the blame for America's economic woes on the growing eastern power.

The rhetorical fight has included barbs on manufacturing and jobs, while accusations have flown on intellectual property violations and unfair trade practices.

"China has been a currency manipulator for years and years," Mitt Romney said at last week's debate, adding that if elected, he would label China a "currency manipulator" on his first day in office.

He also accused China of "cheating" and pledged a "crack down on China."

Obama was more circumspect, but also said Romney had "invested in companies that were pioneers of outsourcing to China, and is currently investing in countries -- in companies that are building surveillance equipment for China to spy on its own folks."

How will China factor in final debate?
Osnos on China's upcoming transition
Romney's CEO take on foreign affairs
Taking advantage of economic growth in China

As the final debate begins Monday evening, the focus will fall entirely on international affairs and China will once again be on the agenda.

Both Romney and Obama's China-related comments during the debate last week irked Donald Gross, author of "The China Fallacy."

"They're scapegoating China to shift blame to foreigners for America's serious economic problems," Gross said, referring to both campaigns. "They're actually exploiting the vulnerabilities, the insecurities that many Americans have about the economy and about the future."

"I think it's particularly dangerous to engage in that China bashing because it appeals to latent, but yet prevalent, anti-Asian prejudices that lie below the surface in many areas of the country."

The tough rhetoric portraying China as an economic boogeyman did not go unnoticed by Chinese netizens who took to Sina Weibo, the biggest microblog in the country.

"America can't solve its own problem so it always uses China as an excuse," wrote @Longhuachuntian127.

Another user, @Shoujiyonghu 3031271431 wrote: "China's stealing American jobs? Would you come here to get the job and paid one dollar per hour? Shameless (Romney)!"

Weibo user, @Guanbenweibodingduanguandian took issue with the way Romney portrayed China as a currency manipulator and wrote, "America is the true currency manipulator OK? Why blame it on China? Why don't you Americans show how your exchange rates are calculated?"

Chinese sentiment toward the U.S. has cooled in the past few years, according to polling by the Pew Global Attitudes Project.

In 2010, 68% of Chinese characterized their country's relationship with the U.S. as one of cooperation, while just 8% said it was one of hostility. Two years later, only 39% described ties with the U.S. in terms of cooperation, and 26% say they are hostile.

Although the Chinese initially supported Obama prior to his election in 2008, their enthusiasm has waned. Four years ago, 62% expressed confidence in his ability to do the right thing in world affairs. Today, only 38% of the Chinese surveyed expressed confidence.

Both Chinese and U.S. citizens find themselves in the midst of leadership transition. On November 8, just two days after the U.S. presidential elections, China will begin its once-in-a-decade leadership transition that will reshape the top ranks of the Communist Party.

CNN's Jason Miks, John Vause, Dayu Zheng and CNNmoney's Charles Riley contributed to this report.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
updated 12:51 AM EST, Mon December 22, 2014
David McKenzie meets some American teenagers who are spending a year in China to be fully immersed in the culture.
updated 9:59 PM EST, Sun December 21, 2014
Chinese students show a handmade red ribbon one day ahead of the the World AIDS Day, at a school in Hanshan, east China's Anhui province on November 30, 2009.
The Chinese government pledges to protect a boy with HIV, who was shunned by his entire village in Sichuan, state media reported.
updated 6:44 AM EST, Mon December 15, 2014
A Chinese couple allegedly threw hot water on a flight attendant and threatened to blow up the plane.
updated 12:03 AM EST, Mon December 15, 2014
China's 1.3 billion citizens may soon find it much harder to belt out their national anthem at will.
updated 7:21 PM EST, Tue December 9, 2014
Los Angeles in the last century went through its own smog crisis. The city's mayor says LA's experience delivers valuable lessons for Beijing.
updated 12:42 AM EST, Sat December 6, 2014
At the height of his power, security chief Zhou Yongkang controlled China's police, spy agencies and courts. Now, he's under arrest.
updated 3:26 AM EST, Fri December 5, 2014
China says it will end organ transplants from executed prisoners but tradition means that donors are unlikely to make up the shortfall.
updated 1:48 AM EST, Fri December 5, 2014
China's skylines could look a lot more uniform in the years to come, if a statement by a top Beijing official is to believed.
updated 3:55 AM EST, Wed December 3, 2014
Despite a high-profile anti-corruption drive, China's position on an international corruption index has deteriorated in the past year.
updated 7:01 AM EST, Wed November 26, 2014
A daring cross-border raid by one of Russian President Vladimir Putin's associates has -- so far -- yet to sour Sino-Russian relations.
updated 7:51 PM EST, Sun November 23, 2014
A 24-hour bookstore in Taipei is a popular hangout for both hipsters and bookworms.
updated 8:53 PM EST, Mon November 24, 2014
China is building an island in the South China Sea that could accommodate an airstrip, according to IHS Jane's Defence Weekly.
updated 5:57 AM EST, Wed November 19, 2014
North Korean refugees and defectors face a daunting journey to reach asylum in South Korea, with gangs of smugglers the only option.
updated 6:19 PM EST, Fri November 21, 2014
China and "probably one or two other" countries have the capacity to shut down the nation's power grid and other critical infrastructure.
ADVERTISEMENT