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  • Writer's pictureXiaodong Fang

Why can (should) all candidates, regardless of party IDs, bash China and strengthen their campaigns


Photo by Brett Sayles

Any U.S. candidate, whether belonging to any political party or being independent, can claim credits and benefit from China-bashing in his or her campaigns. According to Dr. Xiaodong Fang's definition, the rhetoric of China-bashing is one kind of the "contested" topics, that are "not exclusively beneficial to one particular political party, ideology, and/or personality, from which both [parties'] presidential candidates [in the general elections] can claim credits."


In recent presidential elections, candidates from both Republican Party and Democratic Party have used China-bashing in their campaigns. For example, Bush and Kerry discussed China’s involvement in North Korea and Iran’s nuclear programs in 2004; Obama promised to enforce rules against China manipulating its currency in 2008 and attacked Romney’s former firm Bain Capital’s job outsourcing to China; Romney promised to crack down on trade with China in 2012; and Trump treated to start a trade war with China (check “China In US Presidential Debates” by USC US-China Institute for more detailed records of China-bashing).


However, as a contested topic, the effects of China-bashing on voters may be two-way: it may either favor one presidential candidate or favor the other candidate in the general campaign. Therefore, the strategic timing, allocation, and creation of the China-bashing rhetoric are crucial to the sponsoring candidates in U.S. elections.


Thus, both President Trump (or other Republican candidates) and Democratic candidates can gain voter support by bashing China in the 2020 presidential campaigns. While Trump could definitely continue his tough policy towards China, Democrats' China-bashing on China's wrongful practices in trade, democracy, and freedom should not be treated as echoing the president, but an effective way to show their presidential credentials, strengthen partisan support and push China to change its wrongful practices on the relevant issues.



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