At Tuesday’s presidential debate, both President Barack Obama and Gov. Mitt Romney took swipes at China. But the country found an unlikely defender in New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg.
The mayor said China isn’t the major problem the U.S. has with its economy. “The first problem is we’re not creating the kinds of jobs that the people who are out of work here have the skill sets for. And we’re not improving our education system so that the workers of tomorrow are going to be able to do the kinds of job that are going to be available,” Bloomberg said.
At the debate, Romney reiterated his promise to “stand up to China” and label it a “currency manipulator.” Obama said that Romney, while at Bain Capital, helped move jobs overseas to China. He added that his administration was tough on China, slapping levies, for example, on low-priced Chinese-made tires.
Bloomberg did say some of the criticism the candidates levied at China was valid, such as its reputation for ignoring copyright protection. But he added that the Chinese Yuan, which is low, has appreciated over the last year.
Bloomberg said the reality is China is the second largest superpower in the world and a market the U.S. can’t ignore.
“We want our manufacturing to grow. Where do you think we’re going to sell it? Not into Europe at the moment. They’re not buying very much stuff, or Latin America, or Africa. China is the big market,” Bloomberg said. “We want to buy things that they make. We also want to sell things to them. And when you’re going to have dealings with people you don’t encourage those dealings or make it easier by lambasting them.”
Hizzoner may have a point. After the debate, China’s government news agency warned China "perhaps would be forced to fight back," triggering a global trade war. The issue likely will be brought up again at the next and last presidential debate, which will focus on foreign policy.