VP can­di­dates’ views on China not widely known In­side In­side

China Daily (Canada) - - CHINA - By CHEN WEIHUA in­Wash­ing­ton chen­wei­hua@chi­nadai­lyusa.com

While US pres­i­den­tial can­di­dates Don­ald Trump and Hil­lary Clin­ton have usedChina as a bo­gey­manin cam­paign speeches, their run­ning mates — Repub­li­can Mike Pence and Demo­crat Tim Kaine — are much less known when it comes to views about China.

Pence and Kaine squared off in Vir­ginia on Tues­day night in the only vice-pres­i­den­tial de­bate of the cam­paign.

The two gov­er­nors pre­sented them­selves as char­ac­ter wit­nesses for their run­ning mates while also get­ting in jabs at the top of each oth­ers’ tick­ets that at times over­ran at­tempts by the moder­a­tor to fo­cus on the ques­tions be­ing asked.

Kaine was the more ag­gres­sive de­bater, re­peat­edly ask­ing Pence to de­fend the ac­tions of the Repub­li­can pres­i­den­tial nom­i­nee. Pence mostly de­murred.

A probe of their track records as­gov­er­nor­sand­con­gress­men shows that nei­ther has adopted a rad­i­cal po­si­tion re­gard­ing China.

The US China Busi­ness Council, an or­ga­ni­za­tion that rep­re­sents US com­pa­nies in­vest­ing and trad­ing in China, de­scribed Pence’s vot­ing record on trade dur­ing his 12 years as a con­gress­man as fa­vor­able.

Back in 2001, Pence, in his first year as a mem­ber of the House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives, spoke in fa­vor of ex­tend­ing China’s nor­mal trade re­la­tions sta­tus an ad­di­tional year, cit­ing the ben­e­fits of trade with China.

In 2010, Pence joined a mi­nor­ity of Repub­li­cans who op­posed a bill to im­pose tar­iffs on coun­tries ac­cused of ma­nip­u­lat­ing their ex­change rates for trade ad­van­tage. Af­ter Pence was se­lected as Trump’s run­ning mate, the US Cham­ber of Com­merce said, “It’s hard to find a bet­ter advocate for trade than Gover­norMike Pence”.

Pence, how­ever, has re­cently mod­er­ated his pre­vi­ous sup­port for trade, in­clud­ing ques­tion­ing the wis­dom of the Trans-Pa­cific Part­ner­ship, a free-trade agreement pend­ing be­tween the US and 11 Pa­cific Rim na­tions, ex­clud­ing China.

In­May last year, Pence led a trade mis­sion from his state, In­di­ana, to China.

In­May this year, he called for an in­ves­ti­ga­tion into Pitts­burgh-based US Steel’s al­le­ga­tions of in­ter­na­tional trade law vi­o­la­tions by China. He claimed that un­fair trade prac­tices were hurt­ing In­di­ana’s steel in­dus­try.

On the Demo­cratic side, the Span­ish-speak­ing Kaine has fo­cused pri­mar­ily on Latin Amer­ica and the Mid­dle East. His views on trade have been de­scribed by the USCBC re­port as “con­sis­tently pos­i­tive, al­though mea­sured”. Kaine did not de­clare a po­si­tionon­theTPP un­til he an­nounced his op­po­si­tion af­ter be­ing se­lected as Clin­ton’s run­ning mate.

His few com­ments re­gard­ing China also have been de­scribed by the USCBC re­port as “balanced, high­light­ing both the co­op­er­a­tion and ten­sion in the re­la­tion­ship”.

In 2015, Kaine listed China as one that needs to be “skill­fully chal­lenged” and say­ing “that­some­times­meansco­op­er­ate, some­times com­pete, some­times con­front”.

In Fe­bru­ary, Kaine is­sued a state­ment on the Demo­cratic Peo­ple’s Repub­lic of Korea in which he said China has the most lever­age and should use it.

Bloomberg con­trib­uted to this story.

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