Last week’s presidential debate on foreign policy has sharpened attention on the candidates’ views on China and whether its large-scale military buildup is a threat to U.S. security.
“Well, I think it will continue to be terrorist networks,” Mr. Obama said.
The president said China is “both an adversary but also a potential partner” that must follow the rules.
“So my attitude coming into office was that we are going to insist that China plays by the same rules as everybody else,” he said, sticking to economics and avoiding direct mention of China’s military buildup.
Republican nominee Mitt Romney, in his response to the same question, also declined to name China as a major future threat. He instead asserted that the greatest national security facing the country is “a nuclear Iran.”
According to Mr. Romney, China doesn’t want war, chaos and fragmentation around the world because that would upset manufacturing and the 20 million people now moving from rural farms to cities in China who need jobs.
However, observers note that China has not sought to promote freedom in pursuing its version of socialism in Asia and the developing world, instead siding with dictatorships and communist regimes.
“We can work with them,” Mr. Romney asserted. “We can collaborate with them if they’re willing to be responsible. “
Mr. Romney then expressed worries about China’s view of America’s financial problems, including the fact that China holds $1 trillion in U.S. debt securities. He also criticized the Obama administration’s sharp cuts to the U.S. military as sending Beijing the wrong signal.
“They look at us and say, ‘Is it a good idea to be with America? How strong are we going to be? How strong is our economy?’” he said.
“They look at America’s commitments around the world and they see what’s happening and they say, ‘Well, OK, is America going to be strong?’ And the answer is, ‘Yes. If I’m president, America will be very strong.’”