Xinhua yesterday criticised what it called a "blame China game" by United States presidential candidate Mitt Romney, a day after he formally secured the Republican nomination. Romney's tough talk on issues such as Taiwan and exchange rates could sour relations, Xinhua said, noting that anti-China rhetoric often flared up during US elections. "While it is convenient for US politicians to hammer China and blame China for their own problems, they should be fully aware that their words and deeds are poisoning the general atmosphere of [Sino-US] relations," it said. "It is high time for him to drop the 'blame China game' that frequently emerged on his campaign trail in the past several months." Romney has hammered President Barack Obama for being weak on China, seeking to tap popular dissatisfaction over the struggling US economy and challenge Obama on foreign policy. He has pledged to brand China a "currency manipulator" on his first day in office, a move that could enable retaliatory sanctions and that Obama declined to take in May. Romney has also pledged to impede China's rise as a regional hegemon.