VP hope­fuls’ China record re­strained

Run­ning mates hold first, only de­bate

China Daily (USA) - - FRONT PAGE - By CHEN WEIHUA in Wash­ing­ton and BLOOMBERG

While US pres­i­den­tial can­di­dates Don­ald Trump and Hil­lary Clin­ton have used China as a bo­gey­man on cam­paign trails, their run­ning mates, Repub­li­can Mike Pence and Demo­crat Tim Kaine, are much less known when it comes to China pol­icy.

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

A probe into their track records as gov­er­nors and con­gress­men shows that nei­ther has so far been a rad­i­cal re­gard­ing China.

The US China Busi­ness Coun­cil (USCBC), an or­ga­ni­za­tion rep­re­sent­ing US com­pa­nies in­vest­ing and trad­ing in China, de­scribed Pence’s vot­ing record on trade with China 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 (NTR) 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 that ma­nip­u­late their ex­change rates for trade ad­van­tage.

The con­gress­man from In­di­ana was also found to con­sis­tently vote to ex­tend trade pro­mo­tion au­thor­ity (TPA), which al­lows ex­pe­dited con­sid­er­a­tion of free-trade agree­ments in Congress.

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 Gov­er­nor Mike Pence”.

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

From May 9-16, 2015, Pence led a In­di­ana trade mis­sion to China. “Out­side of the United States, China rep­re­sents the largest econ­omy in the world.

To­day we see im­mense po­ten­tial for the cre­ation of more great jobs for Hoosiers through the strength­en­ing of ties with our Chi­nese part­ners,” he said in a state­ment posted on the gov­er­nor’s web­site.

“Our uni­ver­si­ties and our com­mu­ni­ties al­ready boast a thriv­ing friend­ship with China, and we’re look­ing for­ward to strength­en­ing this re­la­tion­ship on our jobs mis­sion,”

In China, Pence vis­ited Bei­jing, Shang­hai and Zhe­jiang prov­ince, a sis­ter state for In­di­ana dat­ing back to 1987, and en­gaged with busi­ness and govern­ment lead­ers and po­ten­tial in­vestors and cul­tural events.

China is a ma­jor trad­ing part­ner for In­di­ana, and many Chi­nese stu­dents now study in In­di­ana-based uni­ver­si­ties. At In­di­ana Univer­sity, 3,100 Chi­nese stu­dents were en­rolled on the Bloom­ing­ton cam­pus in 2014, ac­count­ing for 36 per­cent of all in­ter­na­tional stu­dents.

Some of In­di­ana’s top schools, such as In­di­ana Univer­sity, Pur­due Univer­sity and the Rose Hul­man In­sti­tute of Tech­nol­ogy have ed­u­ca­tional part­ner­ships with Zhe­jiang prov­ince.

Mean­while, many In­di­ana busi­nesses have in­vested in China. The In­di­anapol­ishead­quar­tered phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal gi­ant Eli Lilly has a re­search and devel­op­ment cen­ter in Shang­hai.

But in May this year, Pence called for an in­ves­ti­ga­tion into Pitts­burgh-based US Steel’s al­le­ga­tions of in­ter­na­tional trade law vi­o­la­tions by China. Pence claims that un­fair trade prac­tices im­pact In­di­ana’s steel in­dus­try, which em­ploys nearly 23,000 work­ers.

Com­par­a­tively, the Span­ish­s­peak­ing Kaine as a sen­a­tor has fo­cused much on Latin Amer­ica and the Mid­dle East. And his views on trade have been de­scribed by the USCBC re­port as “con­sis­tently pos­i­tive, although mea­sured”.

Kaine voted in 2015 in the Sen­ate for TPA. How­ever, Kaine did not de­clare a po­si­tion on TPP un­til he an­nounced his op­po­si­tion af­ter his se­lec­tion as Clin­ton’s run­ning mate.

Kaine’s 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 “that some­times means co­op­er­ate, some­times com­pete, some­times con­front”.

On July 12, Kaine, a mem­ber of the Sen­ate For­eign Re­la­tions Com­mit­tee and Armed Ser­vices Com­mit­tee, is­sued a state­ment on The Hague tri­bunal de­ci­sion on the South China Sea in a case brought by the Philip­pines against China. While ap­plaud­ing the rul­ing, Kaine called on Congress to rat­ify the United Na­tions Con­ven­tion on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).

On Feb 10 this year, Kaine is­sued a state­ment on North Korea, in which he said China has the most lever­age and should use it.

Back on Nov 12, 2014, Kaine re­leased a state­ment ap­plaud­ing the US-China agree­ment to con­trol car­bon pol­lu­tion.

Dur­ing their feisty de­bate on Tues­day, Pence and Kaine moved quickly into at­tack mode dur­ing their only de­bate with a series of ex­changes that were ev­ery bit as com­bat­ive as last week’s meet­ing be­tween Clin­ton and Trump.

Pence and Kaine 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 didn’t take the bait and man­aged to keep his cool and avoid be­ing de­fen­sive in the face of Kaine’s at­tacks. In­stead, he man­aged to stay on mes­sage with ex­tended an­swers, even on con­tro­ver­sial top­ics like im­mi­gra­tion and po­lice bias, and turn the ta­bles back to Clin­ton.

“He says ours is an in­sult driven cam­paign,” Pence said. “To be hon­est with you, if Don­ald Trump had said all the things that you said he said in the way you said he said them, he still wouldn’t have a frac­tion of the in­sults that Hil­lary Clin­ton lev­eled when she said that half of our sup­port­ers were a bas­ket of de­plorables. She said they were ir­re­deemable, they were not Amer­ica. It’s ex­traor­di­nary.”

KEVIN LAMARQUE / REUTERS

Demo­cratic US vice-pres­i­den­tial nom­i­nee Sen­a­tor Tim Kaine (left) of Vir­ginia and Repub­li­can vice-pres­i­den­tial nom­i­nee Gov­er­nor Mike Pence of In­di­ana shake hands as they ar­rive for their de­bate on Tues­day at Long­wood Univer­sity in Farmville, Vir­ginia.

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