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 1:18 AM EDT, Wed October 29, 2014
A top retired general has confessed to taking bribes, becoming the highest-profile figure in China's military to be caught up in President Xi Jinping's war on corruption.
updated 1:07 AM EDT, Mon October 27, 2014
A group in China escapes from a stuck elevator thanks to one man and his trusty hammer. CNN's Kristie Lu Stout reports.
updated 9:52 AM EDT, Thu October 23, 2014
Facebook's founder says he taught himself Mandarin and tested his skills with students in China.
updated 9:33 PM EDT, Thu October 23, 2014
China launched an experimental spacecraft that is scheduled to orbit the moon before returning to Earth.
updated 12:19 PM EDT, Tue October 28, 2014
Full marks for ingenuity: This was a truly high-tech scam.
updated 1:26 AM EDT, Tue October 21, 2014
The rationale behind Confucius Institutes -- an international chain of academic centers run by an arm of the Chinese government -- is understandable.
updated 11:11 AM EDT, Fri October 24, 2014
Smooth jazz saxophonist Kenny G wants everyone to know that he's not a foreign agitator trying to defy the Chinese Communist Party.
updated 7:13 AM EDT, Fri October 17, 2014
A smuggler in Dandong, a Chinese border town near North Korea, tells CNN about the underground trade with North Korean soldiers
updated 1:11 AM EDT, Tue October 28, 2014
Yenn Wong got quite a surprise one morning earlier this month when she found out an exact copy of her Hong Kong restaurant had opened in China.
updated 11:15 PM EDT, Tue October 14, 2014
When I first came across a "virtual lover" service on e-commerce site Taobao, China's version of Amazon, I thought it was hype.
updated 9:15 AM EDT, Tue October 14, 2014
Each year Yi Jiefeng does what she can to stop China turning into a desert.
updated 10:54 AM EDT, Mon October 13, 2014
As its relationship with the West worsen, Russia is pivoting east in an attempt to secure business with China.
updated 10:29 PM EDT, Tue October 7, 2014
Aspiring Chinese comics performing in Shanghai's underground comedy scene hope to bring stand-up to the masses.
updated 12:54 PM EDT, Tue September 30, 2014
Liu Wen is one of the world's highest-paid models and the first Chinese face to crack the top five in Forbes' annual list of top earners.
updated 7:44 AM EDT, Fri October 3, 2014
Cunning wolf? Working class hero? Or bland Beijing loyalist? C.Y. Leung was a relative unknown when he came to power in 2012.
updated 7:25 AM EDT, Thu October 2, 2014
 A man uses his smartphone on July 16, 2014 in Tokyo, Japan. Only 53.5% of Japanese owned smartphones in March, according to a white paper released by the Ministry of Communications on July 15, 2014. The survey of a thousand participants each from Japan, the U.S., Britain, France, South Korea and Singapore, demonstrated that Japan had the fewest rate of the six; Singapore had the highest at 93.1%, followed by South Korea at 88.7%, UK at 80%, and France at 71.6%, and U.S. at 69.6% in the U.S. On the other hand, Japan had the highest percentage of regular mobile phone owners with 28.7%. (Photo by Atsushi Tomura/Getty Images)
App hopes to help those seeking a way out of China's overstrained public health system.
updated 8:20 PM EDT, Thu October 2, 2014
Yards from pro-democracy protests, stands the Hong Kong garrison of the People's Liberation Army (PLA), China's armed forces.
ADVERTISEMENT