China Bashing Ain’t Over Yet (But It Should Be)


As many of you can recall from the 2012 election, Barack Obama and Mitt Romney thought the best way to gain the presidency was to China-bash. The Washington Post writes, “You can’t go wrong bashing China. Polls show the public believes that this country is losing jobs due to unfair economic competition from abroad, especially from China.” Yuup. China-bashing seems like a sure-fire way to get elected (hey, it worked really well for Mitt Romney, right?).

So it should come as little surprise that Ken Cuccinelli has used the China-bashing ploy for his bid for governor in Virginia. Check out his miserable excuse for an attack ad here.

Allow me to brush to the side the fact that the entire ad’s point is, “Terry McAuliffe fraternized with China and thus should be banished from pursuing governorship.” In fact, it may not even be necessary to mention that Cuccinelli’s video implies that restricting capital outflow is a good idea. Let’s just talk about China for a hot second, and I’ll try to be as clear as possible.

Relax. China is not going to rain death pandas over America any time soon. They are not destroying our economy. Cooperation with China may be a good bet for a long-term international strategy, and the time to start building that relationship would have started around the time we “accidentally” bombed one of their embassies a couple years back.

Let’s start with a possible war with China. While I believe that tension between China and the United States is inevitable (we’re both world powers and we sure as hell don’t understand each other well), I doubt that war will break out in any meaningful way. Let’s talk nuclear weapons. Let’s talk about how ineffective cyber war has been. If anything, the US and China could sanction each other to hell, but that strategy hasn’t had the best results (in fact, success has been measured at about 4%).

As for our economy, many people are worried about the debt. It is true that China owns most of the United States’ foreign owned debt. In fact, Forbes reported that, “The Pentagon did an evaluation on the risks posed by China’s ownership of U.S. debt in July and came to the same conclusion: ‘Attempting to use U.S. Treasury securities as a coercive tool would have limited effect and likely would do more harm to China than to the United States.'” As for our jobs, China has invested a great deal in the American economic recovery. Your job very well could be sponsored by a foreign, Chinese firm.

As for cooperation, the possibilities are endless. There is so much to be gained in green energy, space technology, and medical research simply by lifting trade barriers and removing the stigma against working with China. I’m looking at you, Ken Cuccinelli.

K. William Watson from Cato writes, “Does Cuccinelli honestly believe that investing in China is a sign of insufficient moral turpitude? I doubt it. We are left pinning our hopes on the possibility that Republicans are merely betting that xenophobia will be a winning campaign strategy. It wouldn’t be the first bad idea they’ve had.” I’ll take it even a step further. Republicans and Democrats alike seem to think that China-bashing is a solid strategy, but there are so many benefits from cooperation.

The first step to cooperation? Refraining from anti-China rhetoric and electing politicians who are not working to damage America’s most important relationship.