Former ambassador to China and aspiring Republican presidential candidate Jon Huntsman has criticised his rivals’ anti-China posturing, as others compete be seen as tough on Beijing. From China Real Time Report:
Mr. Huntsman, appearing at The Wall Street Journal’s CEO Council conference in Washington, specifically targeted former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney‘s suggestion that the U.S. should use international trade channels to punish Beijing for its management of its currency. Such an approach would be “absolutely foolhardy,” Mr. Huntsman said, adding that Mr. Romney “knows better, he’s too smart a man… it’s called pandering.”
“You don’t want to jeopardize all the many things we’re trying to achieve in what is the most important bilateral relationship in the world by acting in an impetuous unilateral way,” Mr. Huntsman said ….
“They will arrive at a point in the years to come where they’ll have more of a market based currency, whether we tell them to do it or not,” Mr. Huntsman said.
Among the other Republican candidates, Herman Cain has warned of China’s efforts to develop nuclear capability. (China detonated its first nuclear weapon on October 16th, 1964). Michele Bachmann has accused the Chinese of using lasers to blind American satellites, though she more recently suggested that China could act as a model for the US in other respects. See also Michelle Goldberg on the “stunning ignorance of China” on display during the recent Republican debate on foreign policy. For sake of fairness and balance, see recent scrutiny of Huntsman’s claimed fluency in Chinese, via CDT.
While Huntsman did not target Obama, the current president indulged in some Romneyan muscle flexing at the close of the recent APEC summit in Honolulu, saying that “enough’s enough” with regard to China’s trade and currency practices, and that it was time for Beijing to start acting like a “grown up”. From Reuters:
“We’re going to continue to be firm that China operate by the same rules as everyone else,” Obama told reporters after hosting the 21-nation APEC summit in his native Honolulu. “We don’t want them taking advantage of the United States.”
China shot back that it refused to abide by international economic rules that it had no part in writing.
“First we have to know whose rules we are talking about,” Pang Sen, a deputy director-general at China’s Foreign Ministry said.
“If the rules are made collectively through agreement and China is a part of it, then China will abide by them. If rules are decided by one or even several countries, China does not have the obligation to abide by that.”
Even as Obama issued the veiled threat of further punitive action against China, it was unclear how much of his tough rhetoric was, at least in part, political posturing aimed at economically weary U.S. voters who will decide next November whether to give him a second term.