On hearing that I worked and lived in the mainland for three years (from 2007-2010), people often ask me if they should be afraid of the country. Had I not experienced it for myself I might sympathise with such xenophobic trepidation. Reading news about China, even I get a bad taste in my mouth.
The Western press tends to favour stories about corruption, murder, internet censorship, the one-child policy and hor-rific working conditions. No wonder Barack Obama and Mitt Romney took such a hard line on the country during pre-election debates in the United States. It seems China was a convenient scapegoat when it came to America's economic decline and cracking down on its iniquities was the best solution either Democrat or Republic could muster for mending their own country's weakened financial system.
Republican Romney vowed to "get tough on China from day one" and labelled it a currency manipulator, opening the door to trade sanctions, while the president asserted he had been "twice as tough" on China as his predecessor, George W. Bush.
According to Eduardo Porter, in a New York Times article headlined, Better Ways to Deal With China, this approach is nothing new. Back in the 1980s, then president Ronald Reagan did a similar thing in his second term, blaming Japan - with which, incidentally, the US still runs a significant trade deficit - for America's decline.
Getting tough on China may or may not have helped Obama win re-election, but the last thing America needs is a trade war with China. Now he is safely ensconced back in the Oval Office, perhaps he should get his own house in order and leave China to its new leadership.