You might hear a lot about China at tonight's foreign-policy-themed presidential debate. We'd better hope that most of it is bogus posturing, because most of what the candidates usually say about China is dumb.

Aside from al Qaeda there are few more reliable bogeymen in politics than China. They took our jerbs! Plus, they're foreigners. Communists, even. Also, Chinese-Americans are not yet a big voting bloc in the U.S. It's almost too easy for our politicians to bash away at China, at least until the election is over.

Mitt Romney quickly seized the mantle of top China-basher in this election, promising to label China a currency manipulator on a very busy Day One in the White House. But President Obama has been no slacker in China-bashing himself. Together, they uttered the word "China" 21 times in their debate last week, and never in a complementary way, like "This china pattern goes really well with the drapes."

Instead, all you heard was about how China is destroying America's economy and about how each guy would be better at cracking down on big mean China once and for all. Politicians of both parties have been saying this kind of stuff for years, but they almost never follow up, because they either know, or find out quickly, that getting into a giant fight with China is bad for business, which is ultimately bad politics.

Here are the four dumbest things the candidates have been saying about China, and why they're dumb:

Dumb Thing One: China is a currency manipulator. Why, yes China is a currency manipulator. But then so is nearly every other manufacturing country in the world, according to this list by the Peterson Institution for International Economics (via Ezra Klein). If cracking down on currency manipulation is all it takes to fix the economy, then Switzerland, Hong Kong and Bolivia had better watch out. Update: And you can bet that neither Romney nor Obama is going to call out Israel for currency manipulation, despite the fact it's the worst currency manipulator in the world, according to Business Insider's Matthew Boesler.

What's more, in order to tap the brakes on its oft-overheating economy, China has recently been letting its currency get stronger, which hurts its exports. That's because a stronger currency makes the goods you produce more expensive in overseas markets. It's the main reason China has kept its currency artificially weak for so many years, opening itself up to constant criticism. The currency is still arguably undervalued, but it has risen steadily in strength, for the most part, for the past eight years, notes Tim Fernholz at Quartz.

And as Klein notes, when we gripe about China's currency manipulation, we are really griping about the dollar being too strong against China's currency. All we have to do is weaken the dollar more, something the Federal Reserve has arguably been doing fairly aggressively since the financial crisis. How much more dollar weakening are we willing to risk?

Dumb Thing Two: We owe too much money to China. We do owe quite a lot of money to China -- China held $1.15 trillion in U.S. debt as of August, according to the Treasury Department. But if China didn't own all of that debt, then our interest rates might be much, much higher. You could forget about a housing comeback, at least not without another huge plunge in prices.

And China is slowly losing its position as America's top lender. It has shed nearly 10 percent of its U.S. debt in the past year. Japan, meanwhile, has increased its holdings by nearly 24 percent in the same time period and now holds $1.12 trillion in debt. It's only a matter of time before it resumes its place as the biggest holder of U.S. debt, as it once was. Will we then go back to the 1980s, when Japan was our favorite country to bash?

Dumb Thing Three: Higher tariffs will show China who is boss. Romney threatened in the last debate to hit China with tariffs if it doesn't get in line. Tariffs on Chinese goods mean higher prices for you at Wal-Mart -- it's a tax on you, in other words, as Slate's Matt Yglesias points out. How much disposable income are you willing to sacrifice to teach China a lesson?

Meanwhile, as Lily Kuo of Quartz points out, Chinese direct investment in the U.S. might be responsible for creating 400,000 jobs here by the year 2020, according to a recent study by the Rhodium Group. That's not all that many in the grand scheme of things, but "getting tough" with China could inspire Chinese investors to take their money elsewhere and leave us with zero extra jobs.

Dumb Thing Four: We can take back our jerbs. Candy Crowley asked in the last debate when we were getting iPhone and iPad manufacturing jobs back here in the U.S. As Yglesias pointed out, this was kind of a dumb question, as those things have never been made in the U.S. And they probably never will be, given that the global supply chain, and China's infrastructure, are uniquely set up to make it much cheaper and easier all around to produce stuff in China, the New York Times noted recently. That's not something that can be quickly, if ever, turned around with some harsh words or tariffs.

We might be willing to pay the extra $65 per iPhone that it might cost if iPhones were were made with U.S. labor instead of Chinese labor, according to some estimates. But cheap labor is not the only reason iPhones are made in China.

The truth of the matter is that we don't want some of the manufacturing jobs that Chinese workers are doing cheaply. In fact, a growing number of Chinese don't want to do those jobs, either, or they want higher pay or better conditions, which means some day the Chinese might be bashing the Vietnamese or somebody else for taking their lousy manufacturing jobs.

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  • 10. Georgia

    <strong>Net job change:</strong> -87,700 <strong>Jobs lost:</strong> 101,200 <strong>Jobs gained:</strong> 13,500 Georgia has lost a significant number of jobs, primarily in industries "including computers and electronic parts, textiles and apparel, and furniture," according to the EPI. One of the hardest hit districts in the country was the state's 9th congressional district, which is located in the northern part of the state and includes the city of Gainesville. Georgia has historically been known for its textile industry and remains one of the top cotton-producing states in the country. <a href="http://247wallst.com/2011/09/22/states-losing-the-most-jobs-to-china/#ixzz1YhOOQ8Qq" target="_hplink">Read more at 24/7 Wall St.</a>

  • 9. Massachusetts

    <strong>Net job change:</strong> -88,600 <strong>Jobs lost:</strong> 99,300 <strong>Jobs gained:</strong> 10,700 Two of the nation's 20 hardest-hit congressional districts are located in Massachusetts. The first of these is the 5th congressional district, which includes the cities of Lowell, one of the country's earliest textile centers, and Lawrence, home of a number of textile and electronics manufacturers. The state's neighboring 3rd congressional district also lost an exceptional number of jobs. This district includes Worcester, another historically significant textile city, which has since increased its technology industry. <a href="http://247wallst.com/2011/09/22/states-losing-the-most-jobs-to-china/#ixzz1YhOOQ8Qq" target="_hplink">Read more at 24/7 Wall St.</a>

  • 8. Ohio

    <strong>Net job change:</strong> -103,500 <strong>Jobs lost:</strong> 124,100 <strong>Jobs gained:</strong> 13,500 Ohio is one of the U.S.'s biggest manufacturing states. It is home to major companies such as Procter & Gamble and AK Steel Corporation. However, the state's manufacturing sector is declining at a faster rate than the nation's. The automobile sector has had the highest unemployment growth since 2007, although companies in other sectors have contributed to sending jobs overseas as well. <a href="http://247wallst.com/2011/09/22/states-losing-the-most-jobs-to-china/#ixzz1YhOOQ8Qq" target="_hplink">Read more at 24/7 Wall St.</a>

  • 7. Pennsylvania

    <strong>Net job change:</strong> -106,900 <strong>Jobs lost:</strong> 127,200 <strong>Jobs gained:</strong> 20,200 According to the <a href="http://www.nam.org/~/media/05D50BB1359146998A14847A37E512B7.ashx" target="_hplink">National Association of Manufacturers</a>, "Manufacturers in Pennsylvania account for 12.5 percent of the total output in the state" and employ "10 percent of the workforce." Politicians have been outspoken about China's effect on the state's economy. Senator Bob Casey recently stated that "Unfair Chinese trade practices harm Pennsylvania businesses ... and reduce their ability to create jobs." <a href="http://247wallst.com/2011/09/22/states-losing-the-most-jobs-to-china/#ixzz1YhOOQ8Qq" target="_hplink">Read more at 24/7 Wall St.</a>

  • 6. North Carolina

    <strong>Net job change:</strong> -107,800 <strong>Jobs lost:</strong> 122,400 <strong>Jobs gained:</strong> 14,600 North Carolina is home to three of the top 20 hardest hit districts in the U.S. Textiles and furniture are among the two industries that have lost the most jobs to China, according to the EPI report. North Carolina Congressman Howard Coble is co-sponsoring House Bill 639, the Currency Reform for Fair Trade Act, to address this issue. "This bill will at least force China to compete on a level playing field with U.S. manufacturers," Coble is quoted as saying in the <a href="http://www2.journalnow.com/business/2011/sep/20/3/study-overseas-trade-has-cost-nc-more-than-100000--ar-1412177/" target="_hplink"><em>Winston-Salem Journal</em></a>. <a href="http://247wallst.com/2011/09/22/states-losing-the-most-jobs-to-china/#ixzz1YhOOQ8Qq" target="_hplink">Read more at 24/7 Wall St.</a>

  • 5. Florida

    <strong>Net job change:</strong> -114,400 <strong>Jobs lost:</strong> 134,500 <strong>Jobs gained:</strong> 20,100 Florida is not normally considered to be a major manufacturing state, yet it does excel in some areas, such as medical device manufacturing. The state has lost almost 115,000 jobs to China from 2001 to 2010. Governor Rick Scott has been a <a href="http://www.wtsp.com/news/article/192028/19/China-forges-business-relationship-with-Florida" target="_hplink">supporter</a> of business relations with China, but other local politicians have not been as hospitable. In 2007, Mayor John Mazziotti of Palm Bay <a href="http://consumerist.com/2007/10/florida-city-considers-a-ban-on-anything-made-in-china.html" target="_hplink">proposed a ban</a> on items made in China, stating that the city was "losing jobs left and right to them." <a href="http://247wallst.com/2011/09/22/states-losing-the-most-jobs-to-china/#ixzz1YhOOQ8Qq" target="_hplink">Read more at 24/7 Wall St.</a>

  • 4. Illinois

    <strong>Net job change:</strong> -118,200 <strong>Jobs lost:</strong> 139,400 <strong>Jobs gained:</strong> 21,200 Illinois is another traditional manufacturing power that has lost a significant number of jobs to China. Robert Scott, director of manufacturing and trade policy research for EPI, told Illinois <a href="http://wjbc.com/report-trade-with-china-costs-illinois-jobs/" target="_hplink">WJBC radio station</a> that "In Illinois you also have a large number of firms involved in industries like auto parts production and fabricated metal products, and those are industries that were hurt by the growth of imports from China." China also exports lots of electronics and specialty steel -- industries that were once major sectors in Illinois. <a href="http://247wallst.com/2011/09/22/states-losing-the-most-jobs-to-china/#ixzz1YhOOQ8Qq" target="_hplink">Read more at 24/7 Wall St.</a>

  • 3. New York

    <strong>Net job change:</strong> -161,400 <strong>Jobs lost:</strong> 183,300 <strong>Jobs gained:</strong> 21,900 "New York has lost 140,000 predominantly middle-wage manufacturing jobs in recent years as a result of China's unfair labor practices," said James Parrott, deputy director and chief economist at the New York-based Fiscal Policy Institute in the <a href="http://blog.timesunion.com/business/china-currency-manipulation-blamed-for-new-york-job-losses/18752/" target="_hplink"><em>Times Union</em></a>. New York Senator Chuck Schumer has <a href="http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748703856704576285380858477662.html" target="_hplink">made efforts</a> to encourage China to further appreciate its currency. <a href="http://247wallst.com/2011/09/22/states-losing-the-most-jobs-to-china/#ixzz1YhOOQ8Qq" target="_hplink">Read more at 24/7 Wall St.</a>

  • 2. Texas

    <strong>Net job change:</strong> -232,800 <strong>Jobs lost:</strong> 269,300 <strong>Jobs gained:</strong> 36,400 Texas has suffered greatly from the trade deficit with China due, largely, to the prominence of the computer and electronic parts industry in the state. Four of the top 20 congressional districts that lost the most jobs in the country are located in the state. Many Chinese companies have close ties with Texas. Two companies, Huawei and ZTE, have set up their U.S. headquarters in the state. Oil company CNOOC has also bought an exceptionally large amount of mineral rights in the state in order to extract shale oil. <a href="http://247wallst.com/2011/09/22/states-losing-the-most-jobs-to-china/#ixzz1YhOOQ8Qq" target="_hplink">Read more at 24/7 Wall St.</a>

  • 1. California

    <strong>Net job change:</strong> -454,600 <strong>Jobs lost:</strong> 519,000 <strong>Jobs gained:</strong> 64,300 California has lost almost half a million jobs to China, according to EPI. Like Texas, many of these were lost in the computer and electronic parts industry. Additionally, eight of the nation's 20 hardest hit districts are in the state. Governor Jerry Brown has proposed ways to win back jobs from China outside of the computer sector, such as green technology. In his race for governorship, Brown said that he would create thousands of clean-energy jobs, "reclaiming from China leadership of the cleantech economy." <a href="http://247wallst.com/2011/09/22/states-losing-the-most-jobs-to-china/#ixzz1YhOOQ8Qq" target="_hplink">Read more at 24/7 Wall St.</a>