Photo: Pew Research
Ritchie King at Quartz points towards some fascinating data from a recent Pew Global Attitudes report that suggests China is pretty much the only country who cares much more about the 2012 US elections more than the 2008 elections.Most other nations, according to the data, are far less interested in this year’s election, sometimes by as much as 20%. That seems perfectly understandable as 2008 was the historic election of America’s first black president. But why does China care more this year?
King points to data about the rise of internet use in China in the previous four years, and it’s hard to deny this is probably the most important factor. But there’s another big factor that can’t be ignored — and that’s simply that China has become a significant factor in the election itself, and the country knows it.
Romney has released a campaign advertisement that specifically targeted Obama for his China policy, stating “Under Obama, we’ve lost over half a million manufacturing jobs, and for the first time, China is beating us.” Recently while campaigning in Virginia Romney criticised US Treasury decisions not to label China a “currency manipulator”, and said that he will give China that label “on the first day” he’s in office.
China hasn’t let this slide — state media has run at least two editorials criticising Romney for his comments, one pointing out that “this China-battering politician’s wealth was actually obtained by doing business with Chinese companies before he entered politics”.
The tension isn’t just economic. This last year has also seen China embroiled in two serious territorial disputes with US allies — the Philippines and Japan. To an extent the US is not seen as a neutral party in these disputes — a Xinhua editorial labelled the US a “sneaky trouble maker sitting behind some nations in the region and pulling strings” for attempts to mediate, and protesters recently attacked the US Ambassador’s care in Beijing (while chanting “Pay us back our money!”).
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