Image credit: Dave Lawrence.
One way to sell copies of your magazine is to have a dramatic cover that effectively trolls the readership into buying a copy. TIME‘s recent Xi Jinping cover is a good example of this, as is Tina Brown‘s entire career at Newsweek. Another tried and tested method is to publish an article that deliberately bucks consensus opinion (Slate does this a lot), which is what Foreign Policy is doing with “Red State“.
A theory: Shen Dingli, director of the Center for American Studies at Fudan University, didn’t pitch this story to Foreign Policy, but had it pitched to him by editors looking for someone to put their name to an already decided upon argument.
Dr Shen’s argument, that Mitt Romney would be more beneficial from China’s point of view than another four years of Barack Obama, largely undoes itself.
Traditionally, Republicans have favored free trade, free enterprise, and less regulation — qualities more or less compatible with China’s present state economic philosophy of development, investment, trade, entrepreneurship, and efficiency — not to mention a shared concern over the economic risk of curbing climate change.
There is very little distance between Republican and Democratic positions on free trade and free enterprise. Though Mr Obama may be striking an anti-China stance in the run-up to the election, his record doesn’t match his rhetoric. Indeed, it is Republicans, like Mitt Romney, who seem to be favouring protectionist policies antithetical to free trade.
Candidate Romney’s repeated promise that he would label China a currency manipulator on his first day in office is well known. But could he really afford to do so? China imported $120 billion of U.S. commodities in 2011, and roughly 1 million Chinese visitors toured the United States that year, each spending an average of around $7,000. Despite China’s slowing economy, these numbers will increase in 2012. Would a President Romney really honor his threat, at the cost of hundreds of thousands of U.S. jobs?
Whether Mr Romney would actually label China a currency manipulator or not seems beside the point when we are considering which candidate is more attractive to the Chinese government. Surely the risk of Mr Romney actually following through on his repeated claim is great enough that Chinese leaders are hoping for an Obama victory?
President Romney’s foreign policy would not necessarily be all that great for China either. He has promised to sell more advanced weaponry to Taiwan and would likely not care to spare much time explaining America’s Asia security policy to Beijing. Rather, his administration would simply assert U.S. leadership in the region. On the surface, his blunt statements, if extrapolated into policy, would be more threatening toward Beijing. Nevertheless, because it is so direct, his rhetoric would invite less illusion and misperception, which could in the end be less misleading and less frustrating.
Now Dr Shen is really grasping for straws. Mitt Romney’s more threatening, hawkish foreign policy is better more China because at least he’s honest about it? US-China relations will be improved by a President who doesn’t care about pissing off the Chinese?
Safe to say, the denizens of Zhongnanhai may not like President Obama very much, but they’re definitely not Romney supporters. The devil you know.
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