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  • Writer's pictureXiaodong Fang

How was China bashed in the first presidential debate? What to include in the next debate(s)?

China was mentioned 13 times - 10 by President Donald Trump and 3 by Democrat Joe Biden - during the first presidential debate on Tuesday, September 29, 2020 at Case Western Reserve University and Cleveland Clinic in Cleveland, OH.

Photo obtained from YouTube

The China-bashing in the debate


Trump first attacked Biden for not wanting him to ban China during the initial outbreak of Covid-19. Biden responded that it was President Trump who failed to ask China's Xi to stop the spread of the disease, which caused hundreds of thousands of Americans' deaths. Trump then followed up by attributing the deaths and the economic downturn to China.


Next, when discussing the economy, Biden claimed that Trump's trade deal with China had caused a higher deficit with China now than before. Trump fired back by accusing Biden of his son's business tie in China.


The last mentioning of China was about the environment. When denouncing the Green New Deal - a climate proposal sponsored by Liberal Democrats, Trump claimed that in Biden's 47 years political career, he failed to prevent China from sending up "real dirt into the air." Biden responded that he did not support the Green New Deal, with no comment on any environmental issue related to China.


Why are there so few discussions of China in the debate?


Two major reasons. First, topics for the first presidential debate do not include China. The topics for presidential debate were determined by the Commission on Presidential Debates. In about one week before the September 29 debate, the Commission announced the topics for the debate, including "The Trump and Biden Records," "The Supreme Court," "Covid-19," "The Economy," "Race and Violence in our Cities," and "The Integrity of the Election".


Second, there is no specific question about China being asked by the moderator. Since there was no China-related question asked by the moderator, all of the mentionings of China had to be raised by the candidates when answering the questions about other issues. Therefore, chances for expansion and in-depth discussion on China are limited.


What should be included in the next debate(s)?


Although the two contenders used China as cases to support their claims and attack each other in the first debate, further discussion and accusation of the Chinese Government's wrongdoings are missing.


The outbreak of Covid-19 and the hundreds of thousands of Americans' deaths were, in the first place, due to the delayed response by the Chinese Government. Prioritizing the Communist regime's stability over public health, the Chinese authorities covered-up truth of the coronavirus outbreak in the early stage, rejected foreign experts to study the disease, censored the media coverage, and suppressed personal discussion of the disease in social media, which caused the global pandemic and millions of deaths in the world.


Apart from Covid-19, there are so many issues related to China worth mentioning in presidential debate(s), ranging from human rights abuses to malicious military behaviors in the South China Sea. In an early post, I have provided lists of topics and issues presidential and/or other candidates can explore to bash China in their 2020 campaigns. Ahead of the two major political parties' national conventions, I have also designed personalized China-bashing strategies for Democrats and Republicans in the 2020 elections.


Following the first debate, the two contenders will have the second debate on October 15 in Miami and the third presidential debate on October 22 in Nashville. The debates will be followed by are additional events for vice presidential candidates Mike Pence and Kamala Harris.


A Message From The Founder:


In the forthcoming presidential debates and for the rest of the campaigns, I call on President Trump, Vice President Biden and other candidates in the general elections to raise the public attention to China’s violations of human rights, threats to regional security, repression of freedom and democracy, and other inhuman and unlawful bahaviors domestically and internationally. Your campaigning will be an influencial and effective appraoch to press the Chinese Government to abandon its wrongdoings, and contribute to democratization in China. Wishing you all the best on Election Day!



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