News / USA

US Elections Heat Up, China Trade Tensions Rise

Trade tensions between China and the United States escalated this week, with both countries filing international trade complaints against each other. And as the U.S. presidential campaign heats up, China is increasingly finding itself the focus of attention.

President Barack Obama and his opponent Mitt Romney are talking tough on trade with China.

Earlier this week, Obama announced a new World Trade Organization case over Chinese automobile subsidies. He also brushed off accusations from his opponent that he is not doing enough to pressure China on unfair trade practices.

Beijing quickly responded with a WTO case of its own, challenging a new U.S. law that allows duties on subsidized goods from China.

"Both sides should resolve our differences in an appropriate manner on the basis of mutual respect and equal benefits, through dialogue and consultation," said Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei.  "We oppose the politicization of the issue, and the engagement in trade and investment protectionism.”

China’s Commerce Ministry responded to Washington’s WTO action more directly, arguing that Beijing is becoming a victim of election politics. But with the two countries’ economies so closely intertwined, analysts say it is becoming difficult to keep politics out of trade policy - especially as the U.S. economy continues to struggle.

"There is just an immense amount of frustration on both sides of the aisle [among both the Republican and Democrat parties] in the United States, in both parties in terms of what will work with China," said Patrick Chovanec, a Beijing-based economist.

Not too long ago, Chinese trade disputes were a more abstract foreign policy issue, but they are now widely viewed as directly affecting American jobs and prosperity. The high stakes lead to more complaints.

"Some of the measures that the Obama administration has pursued have more merit than others," said Chovanec. "Input subsidies with Chinese raw materials and rules preventing access for American movies are some of the things that have the greatest merit, and really deal with, sort of, important issues in terms of market access to China. The tire tariff I think was more of a sop to the steel workers unions, and there have been others that have been more political in nature.”

The auto trade case President Obama filed this week was his second in recent months, and both coincided with trips to Ohio, an auto manufacturing state that could prove crucial in the November elections.

In July, the Obama administration accused China of placing unfair duties on some $3 billion worth of U.S. car exports.  This week’s case focuses on $1 billion in subsidies the Chinese government provides companies for the export of cars and car parts.

You May Like

Obama: Alaskans Feel Signs of Climate Change

They're seeing bigger storm surges as sea ice melts, more wildfires, erosion of glaciers, shorelines More

Katrina Brought Enduring Changes to New Orleans

The city’s recovery is the result of the people and culture the city is famous for, as well as newcomers and start-up industries More

Magical Photo Slides Show Native Americans in Late 1800s

Walter McClintock spent 20 years photographing the Blackfoot Indians and their vanishing culture at the dawn of the modern age More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalatesi
X
August 27, 2015 2:08 AM
Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Is China's Economic Data Accurate?

Some investors say China's wild stock market gyrations have been made worse by worries about the reliability of that nation's economic data. And some critics say the reports can mislead investors by painting an unrealistically-strong picture of the economy. A key China scholar says Beijing is not fudging ((manipulating)) the numbers, but that the economy is evolving quickly from smoke-stack industries to services, and the ways of tracking new economic activity are falling behind the change. V
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Shipping Containers Provide Experimental Housing

Housing prices around the San Francisco Bay area are out of reach for many people, so some young entrepreneurs, artists and tech industry workers are creating their own houses using converted shipping containers. But as VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports from Oakland, the effort requires ingenuity and dealing with restrictive local laws.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video Technique May Eliminate Drill-and-Fill Dental Care

Many people dread visiting dentists because they're afraid of drills. Now, however, a technology developed by a British firm promises to eliminate the need for mechanical cleaning of dental cavities by speeding a natural process of tooth repair. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.
Video

Video French Experiment in Integrating Roma Under Threat

Plans to destroy France’s oldest slum have sparked an outcry on the part of its Roma residents. As Lisa Bryant reports from the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, rights groups argue the community is a fledgling experiment on integrating Roma who are often outcasts in many parts of Europe.
Video

Video Kenyans Turn to Agriculture for Business

Each year Kenyan universities continue to churn out graduates for the job market despite the already existing high rate of unemployment among youth in the country. Some of these young men and women have realized that agriculture can be as rewarding as any other business or job, and they are resorting to agribusiness in large numbers as a way of tackling unemployment. Rael Ombuor reports for VOA.
Video

Video First Women Graduate Elite Army Ranger School

Two women are making history for the U.S. Army by proving they are among the toughest of the tough. VOA's Carla Babb reports from Fort Benning, Georgia as 94 men and those two women rise as graduates of the difficult Ranger school.

VOA Blogs