Evan Osnos of the New Yorker watched the last debate in China and filed this report on the reactions of the Chinese media to the China-bashing that has become a feature of the campaign.
To China, the greatest surprise of the campaign has been that its one-time love affair with Mitt Romney has collapsed; Xinhua now seems to delight in calling him “a veteran investor who used to profit handsomely from doing business with China” but has now reimagined himself as the most vehement anti-China presidential candidate in memory. After Romney’s latest pledge to punish China for undervaluing its currency, the state news service warned that China “perhaps would be forced to fight back,” triggering a global trade war. Romney does not mention that the last U.S. President to declare China a currency manipulator—a step on the way to trade restrictions—was a Democrat, in 1994. George W. Bush considered the move counterproductive and it hasn’t been tried ever since. (This might be moot: the Romney supporter Maurice Greenberg said last week that Romney is unlikely to follow through on the promise once in office.)
China has been mildly amused by what the state press has called the “China-bashing competition,” but for the second debate the attention reached new heights. “A vanity fair for China-bashers competing to flex their muscles on China,” as Xinhua put it.
NPR also had a segment in which they gauged the reactions of a group of young Chinese professionals who watched the debate, who also seemed to feel that the China-bashing was a bit much.
Osnos quotes a Chinese billionaire real-estate mogul Zhang Xin who apparently has a large online following who thinks that Romney is bluffing about what he would do with China if he is elected. This is what Xin posted during the debate:
Obama criticizes Romney for investing in Chinese companies, saying he won’t be hard on China. Ha. In fact, Obama is a pragmatist as well. Neither of them could be very tough. America needs China.
This is why I don’t expect any action. We now have a global oligarchy that cares more about promoting their common selfish interests and any nationalistic sentiment takes second place. What the oligarchs want is a stable world order in which they can continue to make money. They don’t give a damn about the state of the American middle class or the working conditions of the poor in China or anywhere else in the developing world.
Apparently the final debate tomorrow between Obama and Romney has scheduled 15 minutes to be spent on the topic of “the rise of China and tomorrow’s world.”
Hoo-boy, I can hardly wait.