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Showing posts for "Campaign 2012"

What We Need to Hear From the Candidates on China

by Elizabeth C. Economy
Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney listens to U.S. President Barack Obama during the second U.S. presidential campaign debate in Hempstead, New York, on October 16, 2012. Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney listens to U.S. President Barack Obama during the second U.S. presidential campaign debate in Hempstead, New York, on October 16, 2012. (Jim Young / Courtesy Reuters)

A few weeks back I explored the quality of the China debate in the Presidential campaign and found it sadly lacking. The campaigns have targeted China as a critical issue, but not in a way that elevates the discourse. China-bashing television ads and debate over whose pension fund has Chinese companies in its portfolio are not going to help the American people understand who would better manage U.S.-China relations and China’s rise. As a result, I raised a number of potential issues I thought might help answer this question. Read more »

Message to the Candidates: Talk China Policy not China Smack

by Elizabeth C. Economy
Illustration by Ib Ohlsson for Foreign Affairs Illustration by Ib Ohlsson for Foreign Affairs

In one U.S. Presidential election after another, the media hype the specter of China as an issue of real policy import. It has been two decades, however, since China has been anything more than a blip on a Presidential debate television screen; and frankly, that has been a good thing. Campaigns rarely elevate thinking on substantive issues. This time around, however, China is becoming a genuine political football, tossed around without any clear aim but hard enough to cause some real damage. Read more »

Getting Japan Right, Mr. Romney

by Sheila A. Smith
U.S. President Obama and Japanese Prime Minister Noda shake hands after their joint news conference in the East Room of the White House U.S. president Barack Obama and Japanese prime minister Yoshihiko Noda shake hands after their joint news conference in the East Room of the White House April 30, 2012 (Larry Downing/Courtesy Reuters).

Coming home after several weeks in Tokyo, I had planned to write about several issues that are consuming the attention of Japan’s political and policy elites. But instead I came back to a hubbub stirred up by presidential candidate Mitt Romney’s commentary on Japan.

At first, I found it hard to believe that Japan had come up at all in the U.S. presidential race. Not since the trade disputes of the 1980s did Tokyo factor in our domestic political contests, and even then it was in large part a function of our own economic concerns and the protectionist impulse that this created in some sectors of our society. China seems to be our demon of choice today in electoral politics, and politicians in the midterm elections fixated on that perceived threat. Read more »

The Republicans on China: Who Knows What’s Up and Who Doesn’t

by Elizabeth C. Economy
Republican presidential candidates stand at attentiond during the singing of the national anthem during the CNN GOP National Security debate on November 22, 2011.

Republican presidential candidates stand at attentiond during the singing of the national anthem during the CNN GOP National Security debate on November 22, 2011. (Jim Bourg / Courtesy of Reuters)

Truth be told, I don’t think that foreign policy—other than matters related to war—is likely to play a significant role in this year’s presidential election. Moreover, as decades of U.S. electoral politics have demonstrated, whatever candidates say about China is likely to bear little resemblance to what they actually do once they are in the Oval Office. Nonetheless, as a matter of character and competence, it is fascinating to look at what each of the Republican candidates has to say about China. Even though I have followed the Republican race fairly closely, I was surprised—both pleasantly and not—by what I found.

Talk the talk but don’t walk the walk: Rick Perry breathes fire on China: “Communist China is destined for the ash heap of history because they are not a country of virtues. When you have 35,000 forced abortions a day in that country, when you have the cyber security that the PLA has been involved with, those are great major issues both morally and security-wise that we’ve got to deal with now.” Well maybe, but exactly how Perry is dealing with them by courting Huawei to invest in Texas is unclear. The U.S. government has three times denied China’s telecom giant business opportunities in the United States because of security concerns related to spying and the People’s Liberation Army. Mr. Perry, however, has praised Huawei’s “really strong worldwide reputation.” The end result of candidate Perry’s China policy to date? Huawei has a corporate headquarters just outside Dallas. Read more »