Target: President Barack Obama & Governor Mitt Romney
Goal: Produce useful and honest dialogue to better inform American electorate on U.S.-China relations
The most recent presidential debate between President Barack Obama and Governor Mitt Romney saw a series of exchanges concerning U.S. policy towards China. While China has become a huge player on the international field and does at times stand at odds to U.S. interests, the candidates’ exchange reduced the Chinese role in global politics to that of a super-villain in a children’s story. By failing to deliver the full truth on a complex international issue, the candidates cheated American voters with a dumbed-down assortment of catchy sound bites. Tell President Obama and Governor Romney that the American people deserve more.
Both President Obama and Governor Romney have again and again aimed to enrage the American electorate with tantalizing jobs lost to cheap Chinese labor. Romney points to policies and regulations initiated by the Obama administration, saying so much red tape makes the U.S. an undesirable location for business. Obama in turn reminds the governor of the role his own firm, Bain Capital, has played in supporting companies that have moved manufacturing to China. Yet amidst the finger pointing and name calling, both men fail to mention to the American people the harsh truth of global capitalism: if those low-cost jobs did not end up in China, chances are they would have wound up in some other developing country, not the U.S.
What has not been said is that U.S.-China relations, however strained, are essential, and should not be jeopardized so haphazardly. As the two largest economies across the globe, the U.S. and China have a tremendous impact on the world economy. Cooperation benefits all nations. Often, Americans may create new technologies and Chinese may build them, but numerous other countries may contribute needed component parts. In addition, the Chinese and American governments are in constant contact over such pressing global security issues as the civil war in Syria, North Korea’s and Iran’s nuclear development, and regulations for cyberwarfare.
Governor Romney may not have been far from the truth when he mentioned China’s theft of intellectual property or its artificially deflated currency, but simply labeling China a “currency manipulator” will have little impact on real-world business. In fact, such action would most likely result in devastating repercussions to the fragile and important U.S.-China relationship.
But many voters know nothing of these wide-reaching effects; they only know that China is a villain that must be vanquished. Ask President Obama and Governor Romney to tell the whole story.
Dear President Obama and Governor Romney,
Both of your campaigns—culminating in the discussion at the most recent debate—have depicted China as an arch villain in the American story. While such black-and-white characterizations are useful in children’s books, they are at best useless and at worse dangerous in international politics. Certainly, China has at times stood against U.S interests and is guilty of intellectual property theft and an artificially low currency, but such issues will not be resolved by careless talk on live television.
Rather than only discussing the jobs lost to China, I ask that you inform the American electorate about all the issues at stake in the U.S-China relationship. The Chinese economy carries tremendous weight, and the Chinese government is a necessary talking partner on international security issues such as those found in North Korea, Iran, and Syria.
The American people deserve to know the whole of what is at stake when deciding which presidential candidate can best work with China.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: DonkeyHotey via Flickr