The Wrong Way to Talk About China

Washington Post columnist Eugene Robinson questions the GOP's negative perception of China, saying that it is based on misinformation.

President Obama and Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao (Getty Images)
President Obama and Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao (Getty Images)

In his Washington Post column, Eugene Robinson writes that the way most U.S. politicians talk about China is wrong, arguing that many are woefully misinformed. He reaches the conclusion, in part, during his first visit to Beijing.

Even the briefest acquaintance with this smoggy, sprawling capital is basis enough to conclude that much of the campaign rhetoric we’re hearing about China is unrealistic, dishonest or just dumb.

This is my first visit to China, and I plan to spend the next few columns reporting what I see and learn. I spent enough years as a foreign correspondent to know how tricky first impressions can be. The subtleties and complexities of any society are — unsurprisingly — subtle and complex.

But not all first impressions are unreliable. Some are such no-brainers that they can only deepen with experience. One thing I already know is that the way many U.S. politicians talk about China is surely wrong.

With the exception of Jon Huntsman, who served as U.S. ambassador here, all the Republican candidates seem to want to be “tough on China.” Mitt Romney apparently has decided to be the toughest, at least on the economic matters most often cited as a reason to display toughness.

Read Eugene Robinson’s entire column at the Washington Post.