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Wed Oct 24, 2012, 03:46 PM

Time: Obama vs. Romney: Who’s Right on China?

For me, the most misguided statement on China comes out of Romney’s mouth. That concerns China’s currency. Here’s what Romney said during Monday’s debate:

On day one, I will label [China] a currency manipulator, which allows us to apply tariffs where they’re taking jobs … We have to understand that we can’t just surrender and lose jobs year in and year out.

Obama is much more reasoned on the currency issue. He noted in the debate that the yuan has appreciated, saying that “actually currencies are at their most advantageous point for U.S. exporters since 1993.”

Obama has actually struck upon a pretty good way of pressing China to improve its trade practices — utilizing the World Trade Organization. Here’s what Obama said on this front:

I know Americans had seen jobs being shipped overseas; businesses and workers not getting a level playing field when it came to trade … That’s the reason why we have brought more cases against China for violating trade rules than the other — the previous Administration had done in two terms. And we’ve won just about every case that we’ve filed, that has been decided.

China takes its WTO responsibilities very seriously, and the organization is seen as a relatively impartial arbiter of such disputes. Rather than going head to head with Beijing, using the good offices of the WTO could produce some real results.


... Romney morphs from a champion of free markets and private enterprise into a proponent of tariffs and state protection when it comes to China. I

Obama ... does see America’s relationship with China in much broader terms than Romney. Contending with China doesn’t just mean fixing currencies and resolving trade disputes. Obama has a stronger, wider vision of how to make that happen.


Of course all of this analysis assumes that romney actually means what he says.

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