In the final presidential debate Monday night, China was mentioned 35 times. Repeating a line he’s used throughout the campaign, Mitt Romney charged China with keeping the value of its currency artificially low. He said he would label the country a “currency manipulator” on his first day in office. “China is both an adversary,” Romney said, “but also a potential partner in the international community if it’s following the rules.” Obama emphasized how he’s increased the number of trade cases the U.S. has filed against China at the World Trade Organization. (For a history of tit-for-tat trade cases filed between the U.S. and China, check out this cool graphic.)
So how do the Chinese see all this China-bashing? To find out, we translated a selection of news stories from Chinese state-owned media.
On Sept. 14, Xinhua, the government-owned news agency, lashed out at Romney’s currency manipulator remarks in a news analysis piece by Liu Chang:
“Merely aimed at scoring cheap political points in an election season, U.S. Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney once again blamed China’s currency policy as the root cause for the excruciatingly high jobless rates
in the United States. … Such blaming-China-on-everything remarks are as false as they are foolish, for it has never been a myth that pushing up the value of China’s currency would be of little use to boost the chronically slack job market of the world’s sole superpower, not to mention to magically turn the poor U.S. economic performance around.”
In late September, Obama used a campaign stop in Ohio to announce a trade case against China. The U.S. accuses China of providing $1 billion in illegal subsidies for exports of cars and car parts. An article in the Global Times, a Chinese state-owned newspaper, ridiculed the case as a political maneuver without merit: “Almost no media believes that Obama will save American jobs by filing WTO complaints. More critics suggest that his primary goal is to keep his own presidential post.”
Right after the second presidential debate, CCTV, China’s state-owned television network, ran this article on its English-language website. Surprisingly, it takes a negative view of U.S. companies that have outsourced jobs to China: “Romney needs to understand that Apple products being assembled in China is not something that China should take pride in or even appreciate. Foreign companies are able to outsource manufacturing jobs to China because of the country’s hard-working and low-paid workforce. This outsourcing maximizes the companies’ profit margins, but leaves China with meager profits and massive pollution problems. … It seems Obama takes a more objective view on the dilemma facing the U.S. manufacturing industry, as he admitted that some low-paid and low-tier jobs will never return to America.”
Wang Guan, a correspondent in CCTV’s new Washington bureau, says he feels it’s his job to remind his audience back home to take U.S. politicians’ attacks on China with a grain of salt. “We know that the U.S. presidential candidates often say one thing during the campaign and do another when they become presidents,” Guan told CCTV viewers in August.
Reporting on the debate this morning, CCTV took note of how much the candidates talked about Washington’s relationship with Beijing: “In order to gain more votes, President Obama and candidate Romney are talking about China again.”