China emerges as a scapegoat in US electoral campaigns

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China is increasing made a scapegoat to vilify during the U.S. mid-term electoral campaigns from both Democrats and Republicans, for a much-propagated phenomenon that tens of thousands of American jobs are outsourced abroad, typically the rising Asian economy.

The New York Times reported Saturday that with many Americans seized by anxiety about America's economic decline, candidates from both political parties have suddenly found a new villain to run against: China.

The story, authored by David W. Chen, said that from the marquee battle between Senator Barbara Boxer and Carly Fiorina in California to the House contests in rural New York, Democrats and Republicans are blaming one another for allowing the export of jobs to China. In the past week or so, at least 29 candidates have unveiled advertisements suggesting that their opponents have been too sympathetic to China, it reported.

One ad for an Ohio congressman, Zack Space, accuses his Republican opponent, Bob Gibbs, of supporting free-trade policies that sent Ohioans' jobs to China. As a giant dragon appears on the screen, the narrator sarcastically thanks the Republican: "As they say in China, xie xie (thank) Mr. Gibbs!"

John A. Boehner, the House minority leader, in a speech Friday in Ohio, blamed US President Obama and the Democrats for a "stimulus that shipped jobs overseas to China instead of creating jobs here at home."

And on Wednesday, Senator Harry Reid, the majority leader, began showing an ad that wove pictures of Chinese factory workers with criticism that Republican Sharron Angle was "a foreign worker's best friend"for supporting corporate tax breaks that led to outsourcing to China and India, The New York Times reported. The barrage of ads, expected to total in the tens of millions of dollars, is occurring as politicians are struggling to address voters' most pressing and stubborn concern: the lack of jobs, it said.

"China is a really easy scapegoat,"said Erika Franklin Fowler, a political science professor at Wesleyan University who is director of the Wesleyan Media Project, which tracks political advertising.

The ads are so vivid and pervasive that some worry they will increase hostility toward the Chinese and complicate the already fraught relationship between the two countries, said The New York Times.

Robert A. Kapp, a former president of the US-China Business Council, said that even though tensions had flared in the past, he had never seen China used as such an obvious punching bag for American politicians.

"To bring one country into the crosshairs in so many districts, at such a late stage of the campaign, represents something new and a calculated gamble,"he said. "I find it deplorable. I find it demeaning."

Never mind that there is hardly any consensus as to what exactly constitutes outsourcing and how many of the new overseas jobs would have stayed in American hands. The Democrats cite studies this year from the Economic Policy Institute, a liberal research organization, that assert 3 million jobs have been outsourced to China since 2001, said the report.

Consultants from both parties are monitoring polling and voter reaction to gauge the effectiveness of the ads and to determine how long to continue showing them. Based on the back-and-forth between candidates on the campaign trail, the issue does not appear to be going away anytime soon, said The New York Times.

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