It’s Iowa caucus day in the U.S. election, so time for a bit of China-election news. Former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney, a candidate for the Republican nomination, promises to “level the playing field” with China in a new ad (below). And Sen. Barack Obama, a Democratic candidate, said he would ban all toy imports from China—and then took it back.
Romney’s ad is more recent than Obama’s toy trouble. Bill Powell at Time’s China Blog, noting that the ad appeared on the eve of today’s Iowa caucuses, cranked up the sarcasm for this one:
Never mind that former Governor Mitt Romney doesn’t exactly say how he’ll “level the playing field” with an economy that’s growing “three times faster than ours” (presumably not by getting Americans to work in factories for a dollar an hour). At least the guy devotes 30 seconds of television time to the second most important foreign policy subject out there. Maybe some crack American political reporter will actually ask him about it.
Or, more likely, not…
As for Obama, I was on the road for two weeks in December and failed to comment on this story. Luckily China Law Blog had some coverage of Obama’s pre-Christmas statement that he “would stop the import of all toys from China.” CLB collected blogger reaction, including from China Venture News, which wrote, “The bottom line though is this: China trade is not a simple “us and them” issue. The companies making toys in Shanghai and Shenzhen for export to America send their profits to New York and are parts of joint ventures that have stockholders in the suburbs of Chicago, Boston, and Topeka.”
The Obama campaign later said that the statement had not been rendered by the press with appropriate context. From Reuters via NYT:
“Now, don’t get me wrong: As president, I’ll work with China to keep harmful toys off our shelves,” he said in Greenfield, Iowa, according to a statement from his campaign for the November 2008 election, . [sic]
On Wednesday, Obama had told voters in New Hampshire: “I would stop the import of all toys from China,” which supplies about 80 percent of U.S. toys.
A spokesman for Obama, Josh Earnest, said the candidate had been referring in New Hampshire to banning “toys that contain more than a trace level of lead, coming from China or anywhere else.”