In his newest TV spot, Romney promises to “crack down on China.” Recently, both candidates have made US/China relations a main campaign issue. However, Romney’s ambiguous language has led many to question what he thinks the “Chinese problem” really is.
The Romney/Ryan ticket is markedly weak when it comes to foreign policy experience, which is not unusual for GOP candidates, since domestic issues have historically been a main concern for the party. As the election creeps closer, Romney has set his sights on China as an issue of choice. His campaign website features a page on China and East Asia, extolling Romney’s plans for US/China relations, should he be elected.
Romney has taken a concrete stance against China when it comes to trade and the economy. He called the superpower a “currency manipulator,” accusing China of keeping the Yuan low in order to undercut pricey American services and promote outsourcing jobs. By labeling China a currency manipulator, the US would be free to impose duties on Chinese products and services. If Romney’s plans regarding China go into effect, major corporations with manufacturing branches in China would no longer be able to offer their services or products in the US at such a low cost.
The GOP nominee would also impose a “Reagan Economic Zone,” which would form among a deepening economic cooperation between the US and its Asian allies. Romney anticipates that China would not join his Zone:
“But with or without China as a member, the Reagan Economic Zone will establish a system of trade that could knit together the entire region, discouraging imbalanced bilateral trade relations between China and its neighbors, limiting China’s ability to coerce other countries, and ultimately encouraging China to participate in free trade on fair terms.”
Though he has only briefly mentioned economic issues in relation to “cracking down” on China, Romney’s website maintains an in depth plan for stifling China’s growing military power. He plans to increase US military presence in areas surrounding China, and strengthen the military might of the US’s other Asian allies in the region, particularly Taiwan. Romney insists that these measures are not ” an invitation to conflict,” but to some, his practices are reminiscent of US/USSR gridlock during the Cold War.
Romney’s plan for China is multi-faceted. Beyond his planned military operations in the Eastern theater, Romney also intends to “strengthen bonds and relations with allies and strategic partners in the region.” He specifically mentions India, South Korea, Japan, and Australia. Romney again insists:
“Our objective is not to build an anti-China coalition. Rather it is to strengthen cooperation among countries with which we share a concern about China’s growing power and increasing assertiveness and with whom we also share an interest in maintaining freedom of navigation and ensuring that disputes over resources are resolved by peaceful means.”
Though Romney may repeatedly say that he is not “anti-China,” he has taken a tough stance against the superpower. If Romney is elected, voters could see a rise in cost for many products they purchase regularly. Stores like Walmart and Target, as well as other large corporations, including Romney’s Bain Capital could see their Chinese investments plummet. However, labeling China as a currency manipulator would be the first step in significantly reducing US debt to the Chinese government, which stood at $300 billion in 2011.