Professor quoted on Chinese policy

Paige Bailey

Associate Professor of International Relations and Political Science Zhiqun Zhu said that President Obama’s recent complaint to the World Trade Organization (WTO) was a “calculated” move to appear “tough” on China amidst a heated election. Zhu’s commentary was quoted in the international newspaper, “China Daily,” this past monthZhu teaches courses in Chinese politics and foreign policy, East Asian political economy, U.S.-East Asian relations and international relations theory and is the MacArthur Chair in East Asian Politics at the University. Zhu’s esteem is evident by journalists frequently asking him to give his opinion on current events related to China-U.S. relations.

The complaint to the WTO was specifically aimed at the use of subsidies for auto parts by the Chinese government.

Zhu said it could take as long as two years for Obama’s complaint to make waves. Therefore, Zhu said, this action was clearly a symbolic gesture to appeal to a “certain sector” of society.

This segment of American society is compromised of those who have been “left behind” in globalization, Zhu said. Workers from the American automobile industry are exemplary of the displacement of globalization. Because of the loss of jobs in the auto industry, Obama’s recent announcement was delivered in Ohio, a key swing state that the president will need in November.

Zhu also said that Obama and Romney both make rhetorically tough statements on China to appeal to these “losers” of globalization. This block of voters will be critical for both Romney and Obama in November.

“Professor Zhu’s article illustrates the importance of foreign policy to this year’s presidential election. Being a registered Ohio voter, I am constantly reminded that the primary concern of the election is the economy,” said Andy Watts ’13, an international relations and economics double major. “We cannot forget that our domestic economy is significantly impacted by polices abroad, as well.”

Zhu said America should not exclusively go after China for the economic pains that globalization has wrought. There is the “simple fact” that labor is significantly cheaper in the developing world, and Chinese goods are attractive to American consumers. Because of this, Zhu believes the U.S. policymakers should work toward a more cooperative relationship to promote their mutual economic interests.

“In determining my vote, foreign policy is very important to me … I think it’s a mistake to jeopardize our relationship with China, as both candidates have been doing by way of political ads and complaints to the WTO. China is one of our foremost trading partners and a major world power–if relations turn antagonistic, our trade and security policies could be seriously impacted,” Alex Bird ’13 said.

Zhu made the importance of being “tough” on China clear.

“Obama is not the first to try and appear tough on China … Every candidate has to be tough on China, or they won’t defeat their rival,” Zhu said.

Clearly then, the issue of China will continue to play a role in American political debates, as the country attempts to adjust to the interdependence that has characterized modern globalization.

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