Romney: Obama's Asia "pivot" will fail

U.S. President Barack Obama meets with Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao on the sidelines of the East Asia Summit in Nusa Dua, on the island of Bali, Indonesia, Saturday, Nov. 19, 2011. AP Photo/Charles Dharapak

Obama, Xi Jinping
AP Photo/Charles Dharapak

As tensions simmer between the U.S. and China over trade and human rights, Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney is warning in a new op-ed that "the dawn of a Chinese century--and the end of an American one--is not inevitable."

And President Obama, Romney argues in the Wall Street Journal, "is moving in precisely the wrong direction."

The Obama administration pulled out all the stops this week to welcome China's Vice President Xi Jinping, the man expected to be China's next president.

In his op-ed, Romney charges that Mr. Obama's meeting with Xi amounted to "empty pomp and ceremony." He says Mr. Obama came into office "as a near supplicant to Beijing, almost begging it to continue buying American debt so as to finance his profligate spending here at home," while castigating Mr. Obama for not properly addressing China's human rights issues.

In his public remarks to Xi, Mr. Obama took a welcoming but stern tone. Mr. Obama said the U.S. welcomes "China's peaceful rise" in the world, but he added, "We want to work with China to make sure that everybody is working by the same rules of the road when it comes to the world economic system." He said that on "critical issues like human rights," the U.S. will continue to emphasize to China the aspirations and rights of all people.

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While Romney and Mr. Obama seem to have similar ideas about the nature of the United States' relationship with China, Romney argues that Mr. Obama's "pivot" to put more focus on relations with Asia "may prove to be as gimmicky and vacuous."

Mr. Obama's renewed focus on Asia-Pacific relations includes an expanded military presence in Australia, though his budget calls for a slimmed down military overall.

"The pivot is also vastly under-resourced," Romney charges. "Despite his big talk about bolstering our military position in Asia, President Obama's actions will inevitably weaken it."

Romney also promises to be much more aggressive with China on the economic front.

"Unless China changes its ways, on day one of my presidency I will designate it a currency manipulator and take appropriate counteraction," he writes. "A trade war with China is the last thing I want, but I cannot tolerate our current trade surrender."

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