China-Bashing in Presidential Debates May Hurt Ties, Xinhua Says

U.S.-China ties could be hurt if the last two debates between President Barack Obama and Republican challenger Mitt Romney turn into a “China-bashing competition,” the official Xinhua News Agency said.

“With the election day only three weeks away, the fierce presidential race seems to have morphed into a contest in which the one who plays tougher on China has better chances to win,” Xinhua said in a commentary.

Obama and Romney are both airing ads in swing states such as Ohio and Virginia that are focused on China, with Obama touting tariffs he announced in 2009 on Chinese-made tires and Romney arguing that he will “stand up to the cheaters” in China. Romney has pledged that if elected, he will label China a currency manipulator for its central bank intervention in determining the value of the yuan.

The Xinhua commentary comes after the U.S. Commission on Presidential Debates said that the third debate, on Oct. 22, will discuss “The Rise of China and Tomorrow’s World.”

“Over the past several months, Republican candidate Mitt Romney has worked pretty hard to portray himself as a steadfast China-basher, trumpeting the ill-grounded theory that it is China’s currency policy that has made Americans jobless,” Xinhua said.

China’s yuan rose 0.1 percent to 6.2635 per dollar today. The People’s Bank of China set the daily fixing at the strongest level since June 21.

Trade data released Oct. 13 indicated that the value of China’s exports to the U.S. exceeded its imports from the nation by about $21 billion in September. U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy F. Geithner said in Tokyo on Oct. 13 that while “some progress” has been made toward a more balanced economic relationship with China, more is needed.

The commentary said that U.S. presidents often change positions after taking office, toning down their rhetoric.

“In order to get elected, they seem never to bother exercising even a bit of statesmanship, and instead are willing to do or say anything to please their constituents no matter what a serious consequence it might entail,” Xinhua said.

— With assistance by Michael Forsythe

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