News / Asia

Economy Overshadows Debate on Sino-US Relations

U.S. President Barack Obama speaks as Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney listens during the final U.S. presidential debate in Boca Raton, Florida, October 22, 2012.U.S. President Barack Obama speaks as Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney listens during the final U.S. presidential debate in Boca Raton, Florida, October 22, 2012.
x
U.S. President Barack Obama speaks as Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney listens during the final U.S. presidential debate in Boca Raton, Florida, October 22, 2012.
U.S. President Barack Obama speaks as Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney listens during the final U.S. presidential debate in Boca Raton, Florida, October 22, 2012.
Sino-American relations loom large over the U.S. presidency, drawing interest and concern from both the candidates vying for the White House and Chinese-American voters.

Throughout the campaign, the candidates have taken turns criticizing China’s trade practices and frequent disregard for intellectual property rights, casting the Asian powerhouse as the global competitor the United States must beat.

Deborah Wang, a Chinese-American voter, watched this week’s debate concerned that President Barack Obama and his Republican rival, Mitt Romney, would simplify America’s complex relationship with China into what she called a “caricature.”

“I think the campaigns do it because China is an easy target because a lot of Americans don’t understand how complex the situation is. They are very frustrated with the economy at home,” said Wang, who lives in the strategically important state of Ohio.

“It’s very, very easy to point to an external target and blame it on that, and just say ‘I’m going to stand up to this big mean nasty foreign power’ and somehow this is going to ameliorate them. I think it’s disingenuous,” she said.

Growing influence

Wang is among the increasingly important electorate of Asian-Americans - one of the fastest growing populations in the United States and, according to a new survey, one of the most undecided voting blocs in the country.

Karthick Ramakrishnan, who helped conduct the National Asian American Survey, said these voters could make a difference in the November election.

"We found in our most recent data that we collected through the middle of October, more than a quarter of Asian American voters were undecided," he said.  "That's about three times higher than the national average."

Ramakrishnan said those who have decided tend to favor the Democratic Party over the Republican Party. Social issues and the economy help inform the votes, he said, but political rhetoric does, too.

"There is a lot of concern in the Asian American community in terms of how U.S. foreign policy is being talked about," he said. "Is it being talked about in a nuanced and complicated way? Or is it being used in a shorthand way that might inflame tensions, not just toward China, but towards Chinese-Americans."

Complex relations

Wang, who is planning to vote for President Obama, said she was pleasantly surprised by Romney’s handling of the China issue during the debate.

"For a second there, I actually felt Romney was making a lot more sense, at least when he started out saying China wants stability in the world," she said. "They don't want war. They want a stable market to which they can export their products. I was nodding my head. I was like yup, that's definitely what China wants."

She was a little less impressed when Romney repeated his pledge to label China a “currency manipulator” to enable the U.S. to apply tariffs where he said China is “taking jobs” from Americans.

“They sort of glossed over the feasibility of making China value its currency to our liking, and they didn’t really go into how consumer good prices would rise in the States if either Chinese goods prices would rise or if we would be forced to consuming more domestically or from other more expensive countries,” she said.

The Obama administration has encouraged China to practice fair trade policies but refrained from accusing the country of manipulating its currency.

Another Chinese-American voter, Raymond Lee, said he worries more about creating jobs and lowering the U.S. debt than how Asian-Americans are perceived because of the so-called China-bashing. The Ohio resident said he supports Romney because he understands the challenges faced by U.S. businesses.

"Similar to Mitt, or Governor Romney, I've seen a lot of different situations advising clients, advising business," said Lee, another Ohio resident.  "I had to live through making payroll … We worry about day to day struggles of government regulation. We live with it right now."

Lee, the chief executive officer of a juice company, started humbly, growing up in a poor neighborhood where he says he suffered discrimination from both blacks and whites because he was Asian. He opposes some Obama-administration programs that offer social and education assistance, which Lee said people should find a way to pay for themselves, like he did.

President Obama “talks about supporting today's youth, and today's youth is going to have to figure a way to pay back all this debt. That's the legacy that's going to be left behind,” Lee said. “I find it interesting that Governor Romney has not attacked him harder about supporting the youth and college education.”

It’s the Obama administration’s investment in social services that appeals to voters like Wang, who helps Asian immigrants and refugees in the Cleveland area.

Looking inward

During the debate, the president argued that over the long term, the United States must invest at home in order to compete with China.

"If we don't have the best education system in the world, if we don't continue to put money into research and technology that will allow us to - to create great businesses here in the United States, that's how we lose the competition," Obama said.

The president’s answer was typical of several in Monday night's debate, where questions on foreign policy instead prompted answers on domestic issues. The candidates made no mention of China’s human rights record and only briefly referred to its growing military power, focusing instead on what surveys say is the primary concern of Asian-Americans and all other American voters – the U.S. economy.

Watch the entire third U.S. presidential debate:
Watch the Entire 3rd U.S. Presidential Debatei
|| 0:00:00
...  
🔇
X
October 21, 2012 9:21 PM
President Barack Obama and Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney faced off on October 22 at Lynn University in Boca Raton, Florida. This was the third of three nationally televised debates.

You May Like

US States Where Women Work for Free

Women earn less than men in all 50 states More

Video Seoul Sponsors Korean Unification Fair

At a recent even in Seoul, border communities promoted benefits of increased cooperation and North Korean defectors shared stories of life since the war More

Video VOA EXCLUSIVE: Iraq President Vows Fight to Death Against IS

In wide-ranging interview, Fuad Masum describes new type of fight that will take time to win More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Forced to Return Home, Afghan Refugees Face Increased Hardshipi
X
Ayesha Tanzeem
May 28, 2015 6:48 PM
Undocumented refugees returning to Afghanistan from Pakistan have no jobs, no support system, and no home return to, and international aid agencies say they and the government are overwhelmed and under-resourced. Ayesha Tanzeem has more from Kabul.
Video

Video Forced to Return Home, Afghan Refugees Face Increased Hardship

Undocumented refugees returning to Afghanistan from Pakistan have no jobs, no support system, and no home return to, and international aid agencies say they and the government are overwhelmed and under-resourced. Ayesha Tanzeem has more from Kabul.
Video

Video Britain Makes Controversial Move to Crack Down on Extremism

Britain is moving to tighten controls on extremist rhetoric, even when it does not incite violence or hatred -- a move that some are concerned might unduly restrict basic freedoms. It is an issue many countries are grappling with as extremist groups gain power in the Middle East, fueled in part by donations and fighters from the West. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video Floodwaters Recede in Houston, but Rain Continues

Many parts of Texas are recovering from one of the worst natural disasters to hit the southwestern state. Heavy rains on Monday and early Tuesday caused rivers to swell in eastern and central Texas, washing away homes and killing at least 13 people. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Houston, floodwaters are receding slowly in the country's fourth-largest city, and there likely is to be more rain in the coming days.
Video

Video 3D Printer Makes Replica of Iconic Sports Car

Cars with parts made by 3D printers are already on the road, but engineers are still learning about this new technology. While testing the possibility of printing an entire car, researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy recently created an electric-powered replica of an iconic sports roadster. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Al-Shabab Recruitment Drive Still on In Kenya

The al-Shabab militants that have long battled for control of Somalia also have recruited thousands of young people in Kenya, leaving many families disconsolate. Mohammed Yusuf recently visited the Kenyan town of Isiolo, and met with relatives of those recruited, as well as a many who have helped with the recruiting.
Video

Video US Voters Seek Answers From Presidential Candidates on IS Gains

The growth of the Islamic State militant group in Iraq and Syria comes as the 2016 U.S. presidential campaign kicks off in the Midwest state of Iowa.   As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, voters want to know how the candidates would handle recent militant gains in the Middle East.
Video

Video A Small Oasis on Kabul's Outskirts Provides Relief From Security Tensions

When people in Kabul want to get away from the city and relax, many choose Qargha Lake, a small resort on the outskirts of Kabul. Ayesha Tanzeem visited and talked with people about the precious oasis.
Video

Video Film Festival Looks at Indigenous Peoples, Culture Conflict

A recent Los Angeles film festival highlighted the plight of people caught between two cultures. Mike O'Sullivan has more on the the Garifuna International Film Festival, a Los Angeles forum created by a woman from Central America who wants the world to know more about her culture.
Video

Video Kenyans Lament Losing Sons to al-Shabab

There is agony, fear and lost hope in the Kenyan town of Isiolo, a key target of a new al-Shabab recruitment drive. VOA's Mohammed Yusuf visits Isiolo to speak with families and at least one man who says he was a recruiter.
Video

Video Scientists Say Plankton More Important Than Previously Thought

Tiny ocean creatures called plankton are mostly thought of as food for whales and other large marine animals, but a four-year global study discovered, among other things, that plankton are a major source of oxygen on our planet. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Kenya’s Capital Sees Rise in Shisha Parlors

In Kenya, the smoking of shisha, a type of flavored tobacco, is the latest craze. Patrons are flocking to shisha parlors to smoke and socialize. But the practice can be addictive and harmful, though many dabblers may not realize the dangers, according to a new review. Lenny Ruvaga has more on the story for VOA from Nairobi, Kenya.
Video

Video Iowa Family's Sacrifice Shaped US Military Service for Generations

Few places in America have experienced war like Waterloo. This small town in the Midwest state of Iowa became famous during World War II not for what it accomplished, but what it lost. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the legacy of one family’s sacrifice is still a reminder today of the real cost of war for all families on the homefront.

VOA Blogs