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Commentary: Campaign politics should not victimize China-US trade ties

By Wang Zongkai (Xinhua)

08:23, September 19, 2012

With less than 60 days to go before the presidential election, the Obama Administration has resorted to China-bashing to win over swing states. It is nothing but hype and may backfire by losing votes and even risking China-U.S. trade relations.

U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk said Monday the federal government had requested dispute settlement consultations with China at the World Trade Organization regarding China's subsidies to auto and auto parts exporters, alleging China's export subsidies "severely distort trade" and "provide an unfair advantage."

U.S. President Barack Obama later touted the latest trade enforcement action in front of thousands gathering in Cincinnati, Ohio, trying to outdo Republican presidential challenger Mitt Romney in cranking up the rhetoric against China. It is rather ironic that Romney retorted that the trade lawsuit was a "campaign season" move.

It is not a coincidence that both Obama and Romney chose Ohio as the campaign battleground. The swing state is home to 850,000 auto workers, or one in eight jobs in Ohio, as White House spokesman Josh Earnest told Monday's press gaggle.

U.S. voters cannot be more familiar with these words, especially in election years. Just days ago, Romney, campaigning in Ohio, accused Beijing of "cheating" and vowed to be tougher on its trade and currency practices.

In fact, every four years since the Bill Clinton era, all U.S. presidential candidates have taken turns to bombard the electorate with aggressive speeches and assertive policies against China.

When Obama slammed China's auto subsidies in Ohio, he seemed to forget it was the tens of billions of dollars under the auto industry bailout bill he signed that helped save thousands of jobs and revive auto plants.

With the support of government subsidies, General Motors and Chrysler have seen a robust recovery in recent years. Days ago, the two auto giants reported a more than 10-percent increase year-on-year in August auto sales, respectively.

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