U.S. President Barack Obama and his Republican challenger Mitt Romney used a foreign policy debate Monday in Florida to get tough on China.
President Obama described China as an "adversary" but said he looked forward to partnering with the rising Asian power as long as it follows international trade rules.
"China's an adversary, and also a potential partner in the international community if it's following the rules," said Obama. "So my attitude coming into office was that we are going to insist that China plays by the same rules as everybody else."
Obama said his administration has brought more trade violation cases against China than the previous administration did in two terms.
Romney, who has used harsh rhetoric on China throughout the campaign, said Beijing "doesn't have to be an adversary," but warned that it cannot "roll all over us and steal our jobs."
"I've watched year in and year out as companies have shut down and people have lost their jobs because China has not played by the same rules, in part by holding down artificially the value of their currency," said romney. "It holds down the prices of their goods. It means our goods aren't as competitive and we lose jobs. That's got to end."
Romney repeated his promise to label China a currency manipulator on his first day in office, a designation that would allow for steeper tariffs on Chinese goods.
During the 15-minute segment set aside for discussing "The Rise of China and Tomorrow's World," neither candidate mentioned China's human rights situation, intensifying maritime disputes, or upcoming leadership transition.