By Mei Jingya, Sina English
In an editorial published on September 18, The Washington Post said U.S. president Barack Obama and GOP candidate Mitt Romney are competing for political support from working-class voters by China-bashing, warning them to avoid protectionism that might ultimately lead to a trade war between China and the United States that will hurt both countries' interest.
The Wall Street Journal on Saturday also criticized Mitt Romney for playing protectionism to court voters.
Bashing China can never go wrong?
The Washington Post editorial pointed out an "iron law” of U. S. politics: You can't go wrong bashing China, especially at a time when polls show the U.S. public believes the country is losing jobs due to "unfair economic competition from abroad, especially from China”.
On Monday, the Obama administration filed a complaint with the World Trade Organization over Chinese subsidies to its auto industry, a political convenience he takes advantage of his office in response to Romney’s campaign ad that threatens to punish China on “currency manipulation”.
Romney has vowed to label China as a currency manipulator and take trade sanctions against Beijing. But it is not a sure bet they will produce any immediate result, said the Washington Post. It noted that as a matter of fact, Obama has made some progress in the past three years by pressuring China on exchange rate, a strategy that is more effective than Romney’s proposal of open confrontation.
Trade protectionist unelectable
The Wall Street Journal (WSJ), in an opinion piece published recently, criticized Mitt Romney for playing protectionism in a latest campaign ad to gain politically. "Yet a bona fide protectionist hasn't won the White House since the 1920s,” it said.
In another article published on its online edition Sept 18, “Importing jobs from China”, the Wall Street Journal said cheap imports from China have actually created many jobs in the United States by boosting American purchasing power, leveling criticism at Obama and Romney for competing to see who can sound tougher on trade with China.
A new report from the Heritage Foundation shows Chinese imports in apparel and toys alone supported a total of 576,000 jobs in the U.S. in 2010.
Buying “made-in-China” can boost jobs too
The WSJ noted that some Americans tend to ignore the job opportunities imports have brought to the U.S. soil. For instance, iPhones are exported from China at a low price, which means more Americans can afford to buy the product, thus boosting development of many sectors in the U.S.
The article also corrected a report published by an American economic policy institute, which shows America lost 2.7 million net jobs to Chinese imports between 2001 and 2011.
WSJ said the report is based on a wrong assumption: A product not manufactured in China would automatically be made in America. However, they hardly realize that “manufacturing has often shifted to China not from the U.S. but from countries like South Korea or Japan from which America used to import”.
“The U.S. presidential election is bringing out the worst in both candidates on trade, which will make it harder to govern no matter who wins. What the U.S. needs is a President willing to educate Americans about the benefits of trade-even with China,” the article concluded.