Image credit: DonkeyHotey
This month has shown that if there is one universal trait we all share as a species it is the xenophobic abhorrence of foreign people. China, whilst not as foreign to Americans as say, any Muslim country, is still pretty damn foreign, in addition to being a massive economy controlled by a non-democratic government, and it’s therefore not much of a surprise to see it become an issue in the upcoming US election. What is interesting is that both candidates seem to have adopted Mitt Romney’s trade warrior stance, with Obama this week filing a complaint with the WTO “that accuses China of providing $1 billion in illegal subsidies to auto and auto parts exporters between 2009 and 2011.” Of his opponent, Obama said “You can talk a good game, but I like to walk the walk, not just talk the talk,” because apparently politicians are smack-talking pool players now.
Obama’s WTO move is intended to shore-up votes in blue-collar areas, particularly in the swing-state of Ohio. However, research released this week from the Pew Centre, a Washington DC think-tank, suggests that anti-Chinese sentiment plays well across the country. Of those surveyed:
- 52% of Americans view China as a major economic threat to the US.
- 26% feel China is the greatest danger to America, more than any other country, including Iran (16%) and North Korea (13%).
- 56% feel that America needs to be tougher with China on economic and trade issues.
- 71% are worried about losing jobs to China.
- 61% are worried about the trade-deficit between America and China.
- 78% are worried about the amount of US debt that China holds.
- 48% are concerned about Chinese human-rights issues.
Greg Sargent, in the Washington Post, points out that there is a China-currency bill “that has already passed the Senate and would almost certainly pass the House if the GOP leadership scheduled a vote on it.” Sargent feels that as China becomes more and more an election issue that bill may receive more attention and may even gain White House approval. Senator Sherrod Brown, the lead-sponsor, argues “that the bill, and the ideas behind it, resonate heavily with working class voters, such as those in industrial swing states like Ohio and Wisconsin.”