Evan Osnos pointed out a new advertisement that apparently marks the first use of China as a political tool in the 2012 U.S. presidential election. The advertisement imagines a future in which Barack Obama is reelected and paints a picture of increasing unemployment and higher debt to China.
Leave aside the irony of claiming debt will continue to rise while the same party is engaging in “hostage-taking” and brinksmanship in raising the debt ceiling. And even forget the presence of Hu Jintao, who is widely expected to be succeeded by Xi Jinping long before 2017, appearing before a large assembly of some kind in the ad.
This and the “Chinese Professor” ad from the 2010 midterm elections and seems to signal that at least some politicians will continue to use scare tactics about a rise of China to score domestic points.
I think it’s worth bearing in mind the humanist implications of demonizing a country that is home to about a fifth of the world population for nothing more than economic success. There are absolutely reasons to criticize China, but when the message is so simple as “they’re beating us, and that’s bad,” the humanity of those living across the Pacific can be forgotten.
Obama’s message of hope, change, and compassion has been criticized recently in light of what many see as an ineffectual middle-road approach to several significant national issues. I doubt any candidate in the near future will get far on a message that underlines the humanity of non-Americans, but that, I suppose, is the compassionate change I would hope for.