The China Questions I’d Ask at the Debate

Posted on October 23rd, by matt_schiavenza in Uncategorized. No Comments

President Obama and Mitt Romney will debate for the third and final time tonight, focusing exclusively on foreign policy. As usual, I expect most of the questions to be about the broader Middle East, particularly Libya, Syria, and Iran. China is too important not to be mentioned, but I suspect that most of the questions will revolve around Mitt Romney’s silly assertion that he will label China a currency manipulator on his first day in office. I hope I’m proven wrong.

If I were to moderate this debate- and time were of no essence- these would be the questions I would ask about China:

  • Governor Romney, you have said that you will label China a currency manipulator on your first day in office. What do you expect this move will accomplish? Aren’t you afraid of economic retaliation from China?
  • China is widely expected to surpass the United States as the world’s largest economy some time in the next fifteen years. Would it be acceptable for China to become the world’s pre-eminent military power? If not, then why?
  • Some have argued that China’s continued stockpiling of US debt is a reflection of our economy’s underlying strength, not weakness. What would your response to this assertion be?
  • Would you be willing to cut or reduce military ties with Taiwan in exchange for Beijing’s diplomatic cooperation on North Korea?
  • President Obama, Secretary of State Clinton played down China’s human rights abuses during her first visit to the country in 2009. Has this approach been successful?
  • Should Japan be permitted to revise its constitution to re-instate offensive military capability in light of China’s rise?
  • Since Richard Nixon first went to China in 1972, successive American presidents have maintained a policy of engagement with the country. However, China remains an authoritarian state with a dismal human rights record. Is it time to re-think this strategy?

Some of these questions are more suitable for graduate school blue book exams than a presidential debate, sure. But it’d be nice to hear what the two major candidates for president think on the more abstract, long-term issues facing the Sino-American relationship. Instead, we’ll get the usual triviality. Oh well- at least it’s better than the lack of public political discourse in China itself.

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