The U.S. Candidates on China I: Democrats

The Council on Foreign Relations has compiled a summary of what the candidates for U.S. president have to say about China, or really, what they’ve had to say—most statements are vague and many are a few months old. The CFR compilation only tracks more prominent statements on China. Statements not directly related to China, say releases accompanying Obama’s support for a Senate bill banning lead in products for children, don’t make it in.

Here’s a summary of the major points for the major candidates. I’m adding in some recent commentary and links via my Google Alerts and other feeds.

    Sen. Hillary Clinton (D–N.Y.)

  • Clinton’s most prominent statements on China came last March and included a few media appearances in which she called for the U.S. to reduce its dependency on Chinese lending. This came amidst a series of visits to China by U.S. Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson and a surge in media attention to the U.S.–China trade imbalance surrounding the Chinese stock scare that winter. CFR links to the same article that many other sources do when talking about Clinton and China. It’s the article that triggered my March 3 entry on this site.
  • Clinton and Sen. Barack Obama both said they would support punitive tariffs against China if it doesn’t revalue its currency. The National Interest cites this among the reasons the United States and China may be headed toward a trade war.
  • CFR also dug up a 2005 release on Clinton’s Senate website asking President George W. Bush to bring up human rights in talks with the Chinese government.
    Sen. John Edwards (formerly D-N.C.)

  • Edwards has kept quiet on China for quite a while. CFR notes the speech he made in 2006 at the Asia Society in which he declared the U.S.–China relationship his country’s most important bilateral relationship. The speech is something I never got around to writing about here, partly because the speech itself didn’t reveal much of interest. …
  • … But, in the Q&A, Edwards did have something interesting to say on the China–Darfur issue. In response to a question from Ambassador Richard Holbrooke, he said:

    I mean, the starting place is something that we’re not doing, which is to make it a priority – to make it a priority that the Chinese are propping up these governments and in the case of Sudan, allowing a genocide to continue. I think the first thing is we have to make it a priority in our relationship with China. And the Chinese have to know that it’s a priority.

    That’s something to watch as the issue festers leading up to the Olympics. File it under “stuff he said that someone will quote sometime”—especially if he gains in the polls.

    Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.)

  • Obama’s “neither our enemy nor our friend” statement is still the main enunciation of his view on U.S.–China relations. Instead, he said, the countries are “competitors.”
  • CFR notes Obama’s speech at my former haunt, the Chicago Council on Global Affairs, in which he said he’d “forge a more effective regional framework in Asia that will promote stability, prosperity and help us confront common transnational threats such as tracking down terrorists and responding to global health problems like avian flu.”

Next up: the Republicans.


2 responses to “The U.S. Candidates on China I: Democrats”

  1. Falen Avatar

    Personally I’d pay more attention on who’s going to be advising on the China policy. All of these candidates sounds like they don’t have any particular new idea about China.

  2. Graham Webster Avatar

    Yeah I agree with you there. I’ve been watching for any news on that front, but it’s been pretty quiet so far. If anyone has any tips, send them my way!

    All I’ve got so far is something CFR also noted: Jim Sasser, who was ambassador to China during the Clinton years, co-chairs Chris Dodd’s campaign.

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