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Special> 2012 United States Presidential Election > Opinion
UPDATED: October 29, 2012 NO. 44 NOVEMBER 1, 2012
Mixed Feelings About China

While attempting to build an "all-American home," Montana contractor Anders Lewendal found it nearly impossible to accomplish his goal to perfection. He could find imported chemicals in locally made cement, and components such as nails, screws and light bulbs would be much cheaper if bought from China.

The story drew media attention in the United States for the man's ingenious initiative intended to help buoy the country's sluggish economy. But the fact that he had to take great trouble to materialize his plan delivered a clear message: In a global economy, the United States needs to work in concert with other countries, including China, to get things done more efficiently.

Both U.S. presidential candidates recognized the need to collaborate with China in their third and last debate on October 22. In the foreign policy debate, incumbent President Barack Obama and his Republican challenger Mitt Romney finally agreed that China is a partner of the United States, following months of intense China-bashing.

China was the subject of to vicious attacks during the election campaign this year. Romney threatened to label the emerging market a "currency manipulator" and punish it for intellectual property theft. Obama flexed his muscles by urging Beijing to "play by the rules" while touting his "achievements" in taking protectionist measures against Chinese products.

Although they vied to be tough on China in a bid to find a scapegoat for U.S. unemployment and other economic problems, the candidates' perceptions of China look eerily similar. Both see China as a potential partner that offers huge business opportunities that the United States can capitalize on. At the same time, they are worried that China's rapid ascendance may harm U.S. interests economically and strategically. No matter who is elected to the White House, the next president is unlikely to introduce major changes to the U.S. policy on China.

Analysts remain prudent about the future of Sino-U.S. relations. That's partly because the two countries are currently engaged in the fiercest economic competition in decades as the United States battles stagnation by reviving its manufacturing industry. Moreover, the shift of the U.S. strategic focus from the Middle East to the Asia-Pacific risks sparking geopolitical tensions with China.

Unfazed by the candidates' tough talk, China holds the belief that the Sino-U.S. partnership will continue to grow in the years ahead despite lingering disagreements and frictions. It is always committed to exploring ways for the two major powers to forge an unprecedented relationship characterized by mutual trust and win-win results, and will, of course, abide by rules that are fair and just.

The interests of China and the United States can be best served only when they make the most of their respective strengths on a level playing field. After all, manual labor jobs created in low-end manufacturing under Lewendal's "buy American" plan may not be what the Americans want.

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