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Friday, 15 October 2010

US politicians bash China for gains in elections

WASHINGTON - With crucial midterm elections three weeks away, US politicians at Capitol Hill have suddenly found a common undertaking: China bashing.

For some time, Democrats and Republicans alike have chosen to fire salvos on the Asian country to prove their loyalty to their own country. 

In their eyes, China has suddenly become responsible for almost every economic problem their country is facing, particularly job losses.

The New York Times observed that at least 29 candidates have suggested in their campaign ads that their opponents have been sympathetic to China.

The Wall Street Journal said the National Republican Congressional Committee is up with 10 new ads linking embattled House Democrats to China.

In their recent campaign ads some Democrats accused their Republican opponents of crafting policies that allowed American companies to outsource jobs to China.

The Republicans, in return, blame Democrats for piling up deficits and borrowing too much from China, or even blame them for supporting a bill that allegedly sends wind turbine jobs to China.

The blame game is viewed by many as a campaign tactic to get votes, using China as a scapegoat.

"In an election, it is always useful to accuse an opponent of being disloyal to his nation. Since some Americans believe that China is more powerful than the United States now, they may feel angry or fearful about this. Thus, it becomes very useful to link an opponent with China," Henry Hail, a doctoral candidate majored in social science, told Xinhua.

"In general, I think that many Americans are not confident about the direction the United States is going, so they are more likely to feel insecure and in competition with other nations. Thus, we see more plays to nationalism in this election," he explained.

Kenneth Lieberthal, director of the John L. Thornton China Center at Brookings Institution, also admitted that this is largely a campaign strategy.

"Politicians trying to get votes do not tell people they must make sacrifices or that times will be difficult. They rather seek to blame their opponents for the problems people confront. So China fits into that strategy," Lieberthal said.
However, most of the ordinary American people, let alone experts, do not believe that China is the main cause of the economic distress in the United States right now.

"The long-term lethargic growth pattern that the United States is in right now is mainly due to its own faults, such as the belief in 'market fundamentalism', lax regulation, too low interest rates and the proliferation of extremely dangerous financial instruments," said Christopher McNally, a China expert with the East West Center, a US think tank.

"But nobody is good at finding fault with themselves, so China becomes the scapegoat. Blaming China is easier than trying to restructure the US economy for long-term sustainable growth," McNally told Xinhua.

Ruben Musca, a US white collar who lives in the Washington D.C. area, shared his view.

"Basically, they are looking for someone to blame other than themselves, and China is an obvious target. I personally disagree with this completely. As a student of economics, I believe wholeheartedly in free trade and the ability of globalization to advance all economies, since it's not a zero-sum game," he told Xinhua.

Some also expressed doubts on the effectiveness of China bashing in the campaign.

"I agree there is an increase of uses of China as a 'stick' in this election," said Douglas Paal, vice president for studies at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.

"Yet I don't see it having a direct effect on the polls so far. That is, the two parties are having a domestic policy dispute, and the essence of that dispute has not been changed by efforts to draw China in," Paal said.