The New York Times picked up the story over the weekend, reporting that in just one week, "at least 29 candidates have unveiled advertisements suggesting that their opponents have been too sympathetic to China and, as a result, Americans have suffered."
And while many of the spots raise uncomfortable questions about the degree to which politicians are trading on anti-China sentiment for political gain, there seems to be no sign that they are letting up. Among the 19 new ads released by the National Republican Campaign Committee today are ten that reference China, including one attacking Indiana Democrat Barron Hill that takes the anti-China rhetoric to a new level.
"Is Baron Hill running for Congress in Indiana - or China?" a narrator asks before criticizing Hill for supporting the stimulus package. In the background, ominous Far East-tinged music plays; the Forbidden City and a Chinese flag are seen on the red-tinged screen. At one point, raised fists appear below an image of Hill standing at a lectern.
Repeats the narrator: "Baron Hill: For Indiana, or China?" The word China is spoken four times in the 30-second ad.
The spot ties its claim to an argument that the stimulus bill created renewable energy jobs in China. A similar claim from Sarah Palin earlier this year was deemed false by PolitiFact.
Robert A. Kapp, a former president of the US-China Business Council, told the Times that the use of China as a punching bag in campaign ads is "deplorable."It is also, perhaps, unsurprising, as China makes an easy target. Americans know their country has hundreds of billions of dollars in debt to the Chinese, and they fear the repercussions from that debt in the future. In the Baron Hill attack ad, the narrator says that Hill's "big spending programs will force us to keep borrowing money from, you guess it, China."
And China, an emerging economic power, is also a potent symbolic enemy at a time when the U.S. economy continues to struggle.
It's difficult to fathom why any politician would, for practical or political reasons, support jobs for China at the expense of jobs at home. But that's just what both parties are alleging in their attack ads.
"Mike McIntyre: Jobs in China, not North Carolina," one of the new NRCC ads says - as the sound of a gong is heard in the background.
Brian Montopoli is a political reporter for CBSNews.com. You can read more of his posts here. Follow Hotsheet on Facebook and Twitter.