Peter Hoekstra, Michigan based U.S. Senate candidate released a campaign ad that is causing some controversy. It features an Asian woman riding through rice fields on a bicycle, thanking Debbie Spend It Now (a.k.a opponent Debbie Stabenow) for boosting China’s economy by overspending U.S. dollars. In addition to listing numbers and figures about national debt and China’s rising capital, the website is an elaborate flurry of imagery and Chinese text with captions such as, ‘The Great Wall of Debt.’
The ad– which played during the Super Bowl on 6 media markets in Michigan– is more of already quite a bit of China-bashing rhetoric being thrown around this election. Mitt Romney accused China of manipulating their currency, stealing American intellectual property, and stealing American jobs. President Obama, during his State of the Union Address, spoke about a trade enforcement unit that would track down unfair trade in countries like China.
“The challenge of Chinese trade policy is a real one,” ex-Rep. Phillip English writes in Politico, “and China’s manufacturing sector has overtaken our domestic production in many particulars.” The United States has lost over 3 million manufacturing jobs overseas, and according to the The Alliance for American Manufacturing and Economic Policy Institute report, 2.4 million jobs have gone to China between 2001 and 2008.
Yet in their op-ed piece, Bloomberg Viewreminds us that, “A nation cannot enrich itself, or stay rich, by denying its citizens the benefit of cheap foreign labor.” In other words, for all the fear-mongering against China that candidates are riding on, they are an inevitable ally to U.S.’s economy.
Former congressman Artur Davis writes:
“The long-term China threat is not that they finance our debt – we should blame our lack of fiscal discipline and our aversion toward hard choices on spending for that–but the fact that we’re losing ground to a country that is poorer and much less equitable than we are. They are still out performing us and out strategizing us in the fields of advanced manufacturing and engineering, and their top-heavy, command and control economy is proving more supple than our own capital markets. That ought to be a gut-check that Democrats and Republicans should run ads about.”
So is the ad racist, Erika Lovely of Politico asks? Not just the warning of China’s burgeoning growth facilitated by their U.S. bedfellows, but the way, for example, the Asian woman speaks to the camera in broken English?
“…Highlighting China trade problems is not racist per se, but such topics should be handled with sensitivity.” says Philip English.
Michael Yaki, Member, U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, calls it fear mongering and race-baiting. “Reasonable debate can occur on job flight to China; Hoekstra, however, chose the low road, pandering to stereotypes, rather than engage in a discussion based on fact.”
Author Christine Pelosi writes: “Republican Party leaders and presidential candidates should stand up to the miscreant, condemn the Hoekstra ad, and forcefully reject the politics of othering.”
Author Jason Stanford writes, “Duh.”