US politicians' 'blame China' game questioned

Updated: 2010-10-25 13:21
Large Medium Small

LOS ANGELES - Politicians in the United States have intensified their campaign ahead of the midterm elections on November 2, making China a scapegoat in a manner some find deplorable.

At least 29 candidates for the Congress have released advertisements accusing opponents of helping China at the expense of the American workers. Of them, 19 are Democrats and 10 are Republicans, showing that blaming China has become a mid-term election strategy for both parties.

Related readings:
US politicians' 'blame China' game questioned US Senate unlikely to follow House on China yuan
US politicians' 'blame China' game questioned Indo-US defense deal may aid Obama's job plan
US politicians' 'blame China' game questioned US-China ties: Trustworthy friend is final goal
US politicians' 'blame China' game questioned US-China conflict may be central at G20 summit

The New York Times quoted Robert A. Kapp, a former president of the US-China Business Council, as saying that even though tensions had flared in the past, he had never seen China used as such an obvious punching bag by American politicians.

"To bring one country into the crosshairs in so many districts, at such a late stage of the campaign, represents something new and a calculated gamble," Kapp said. "I find it deplorable. I find it demeaning."

The New York Times said blaming China has become the easy strategy.

The ads are "striking not only in their volume but also in their pointed language," and even though China has been used as a scapegoat before, experts say it has never been so direct. The attacks are so strong that some are worried they could ultimately affect US-China relations, the newspaper said.

In a latest development, Senate majority leader Harry Reid joined the blaming China chorus, showing an ad that wove pictures of Chinese factory workers with criticism that Republican Sharron Angle was "a foreign worker's best friend" for supporting corporate tax breaks that allegedly led to outsourcing to China and India.

Press reports said the barrage of ads, estimated to cost a total of tens of millions of dollars, is occurring as politicians struggle to address voters' most pressing and stubborn concern: the lack of jobs.

Those ads do touch on the anger of many Americans about the lack of jobs, but in a way that only adds fuel to the fire by giving it free rein instead of mulling up the will and efforts needed to carry out necessary economic restructuring in sectors such as housing and automobile.

In an article on Examiner, author Bruce Maiman said the blaming China part of the game is "another pointless war," noting that while blaming China for losing American jobs, "we continue to buy Chinese products."

"Amazing how the candidates fail to mention that it was the corporations who sought out the Chinese to do business with because of cheap labor," he said. "Isn't that what capitalism is all about? Isn't that what business is supposed to do, maximize returns for their investors and offer the lowest cost to consumers? Wouldn't criticizing China be tantamount to criticizing American consumer based capitalism where lowest cost always matters more, regardless of on the manufacturing or consumer end? Isn't that criticizing America itself?"

Some scholars questioned a study by the Economic Policy Institute which says three million American jobs have been outsourced to China since 2001.

Scott Kennedy, director of the Research Center for Chinese Politics and Business at Indiana University, said most of the jobs China had added in manufacturing through foreign investment had come from China's Taiwan and Hong Kong, as well as South Korea, not from the United States.

In an era of globalization, many politicians, while bashing China for causing all the problems the United States is facing, have visited or are visiting China to do business, attract investment or promote tourism.

The Wall Street Journal said that since September, governors from Georgia, Minnesota, Washington, Vermont, Tennessee, Texas and Hawaii, and mayors from big cities such as Chicago and San Francisco, have visited or plan to visit China.

An increasing number of US local governments are setting up their offices in China. The US Chamber of Commerce statistics show that by 2009, 28 US states had established their offices in China.