Every election year in the United States is the same thing. The two people who are slugging it out for the position of top dog in the country make it a point to slam on the one that happens to be our biggest rival - China. The hopeful politicians try to sound strong by insulting the Chinese government and doing some name calling. But while it may garner them a few votes, does all this trash talking really serve any purpose aside from pissing China off?
The list of insults this year is pretty much the same as they were four years ago. Both sides talk about China being a currency manipulator and stealing jobs from the U.S. What they don’t address are the issues that are actually important to China’s improvement, such as human rights and political corruption. The decision to stay away from these subjects is based primarily on voter demands, since more people are worried about their pocket books than the state of living conditions in China.
But in the end, no politician that has ever promised to “get tough” on China has done anything significant. They call names and then, once the election is over and done with, return right back to trading freely with them. This symbolic attack is mostly pointless and serves only to rile the anger of Chinese politicians and make the next four years more difficult for whoever happens to win.
Strangely enough, it’s only the politicians that seem to get angry over these attacks. A look at Chinese social networks and those who watch our elections shows that most Chinese citizens take the insults in stride. Either they don’t care at all or they express the opinion that they expect it from us. Apparently, we have become so insulting to China that they’d probably be more surprised if we stopped attacking them.
Making China the bad guy during out political election process is essentially harmful. They are a rising superpower and we feel the need to disdain them because we currently can. Not looking at the long-term may produce some strained relations down the road, once they’ve reached a level of economic power that equals our own. We’re using China as a tool instead of trying to actively work through these problems we perceive and it will, one day, come back to bite us.