Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) made his first foreign policy pronouncement since becoming GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney’s running mate, hitting China on intellectual property theft and currency manipulation as questions begin to surface about his record on trade issues.
“Free trade is a powerful tool for peace and prosperity, but our trading partners need to play by the rules. This challenge focuses on China. They steal our intellectual property rights, they block access to their markets, they manipulate their currency,” Ryan said at a campaign rally in North Canton, Ohio (HuffPost). “Mitt Romney and I are going to crack down on China cheating and we’re going to make sure that trade works for Americans.”
Opponents quickly seized on Ryan’s voting record in the House (ThePlainDealer), which includes a 2010 vote against Currency Reform for Fair Trade Act, a bill that would have allowed the United States to seek punitive duties against currency manipulators authored by Timothy Ryan (D-OH), and a 2000 vote in favor (BusinessInsider) of granting China a permanent normal trade relations status with the United States.
But at National Journal, Alex Roarty writes that for the Romney-Ryan campaign, keeping China’s policies part of the election-year discourse is worth whatever backlash on Ryan’s voting record may bring. “That the Romney campaign, which surely knows Ryan’s voting history, sent him to make a China-centric speech anyway indicates how important the country looms as an issue in November,” he writes. “Bashing Obama over China is too potent an attack, particularly among blue-collar voters anxious about the country’s economic rise, to pass up.”
For more on the candidates’ stances, check out CFR’s Issue Tracker on The Candidates on U.S. Policy Toward China.
Suggested Other Reading:
In this CFR interview, Tsinghua University’s Patrick Chovanec discusses China’s economic slowdown, what to expect economically in a Chinese election year, and potential repercussions of China’s economic situation on the United States and global economies.
China Briefing’s Jens Petersen explains the Chinese government’s currency control efforts over the last decade and how far it still has to go to truly internationalize the renminbi.
— Gayle S. Putrich, Contributing Editor