China bashing has become the preferred sport in this presidential election. Both President Obama and Governor Romney have done a good job throwing punches at the obvious boogeyman: China.
Within the last several months the China complaints have been on the uptick. China doesn't play fair. China is a currency manipulator. China is like that big fat bully on the playground stealing toys, or in this case jobs from straight-laced kids or in this case Americans. And let's not start on the Falun Gong...
Well that's how politics works, but in reality taking more potshots at the already complex and contentious relationship between U.S. and China generates little good -- specifically jobs -- for my fellow Americans and me. Right? I can actually see the anxiety level rising among my fellow Americans. Yes, jobs are what we all care about, for that is an important part of one's livelihood and the next meal.
As reported in the New York Times, President Obama himself said "the only thing people care about is the economic issues," after an aide briefed him in early 2011 before a state visit by Mr. Hu on an a variety of diplomatic and human rights issues.
Here's the good news. Americans can chill out at least for now. The U.S. is still the number one biggest economy, and contributes to 30 percent of the global economy. But China is now a serious competitor in the major leagues too, whereas in the past it was a player in the minor league. What to do?
In fact U.S. and China are like a somewhat dysfunctional couple and codependent on each other. Well that's the way the world works now thanks to Skype, Google and Facebook and the plethora of smart phones. In my two years in Hong Kong I've had more friends visit me than when I was living in New York. Why? They were stopping in Hong Kong to do business in China whether it be as a buyer, seller, middleman, whether it was to seek opportunity. And while Americans struggle in their job search in the U.S., China still offers job opportunities for Americans.
The bottom line: China at this stage and point still spells opportunity for Americans. As Chinese companies grow larger they may start offices in the United States and hire Americans. China's auto maker BYD launched its U.S. headquarters in L.A. two years ago, and according to BYD America's vice president Micheal Austin, the company plans to hire 100 people by the end of this year.
As for the Detroit debate, that's old. Rather than going back to making furniture and widgets, why not spend more time, energy and strategy on doing what America has done best, creativity, innovation and new inventions. In retracing history it appears that every 20 years the U.S. has come up with a new invention that has generated jobs, and made other competitors oops countries slack jawed, envious and in awe. The telegraph, radio, television, telephone, microwave, Google, Facebook, the iPhone 5...
The president and Mitt Romney can do much better in their foreign policy debate than just whining about China. Rather they should focus on unveiling specific strategies on how to generate jobs and talent within the U.S.
America has much to capitalize on including some of the best higher education institutions in the world, and technology. Google, Facebook, Yahoo!, Twitter are all "Made in USA" success stories. And most importantly, do make nice with China. This doesn't mean that the U.S. and China need to be as lovey-dovey as newlyweds, but rather that both sides need to finds ways to create a win-win situation for the sake of, yes, generating jobs for both sides.
Follow Amy Wu on Twitter: www.twitter.com/@amyhwu