In some respects, the Chinese government would probably prefer a continuation of the Obama administration, they added, on the basis that the incumbent is a known quantity.
“If Obama wins, we will have a smooth relationship without much change,” said Chu Shulong (楚樹龍), professor of political science and international relations at Tsinghua University in Beijing. “If Romney wins, there will be some uncertainty. If Romney wins, he has to keep some of his words.”
Of particular concern, Chu said, is Romney’s threat to name China a currency manipulator for keeping the yuan at an artificially low level. However, he and other analysts said they believed Romney would be hard put to follow through. That is because the value of China’s currency against the dollar has risen substantively in recent years, making it less of a factor in providing Chinese exporters a competitive advantage, and because Romney would run into a wall of opposition from US businesses that fear they would be deeply scarred by any Chinese retaliation.
“Obviously people are not happy with the Romney rhetoric, but they assume he will adjust if he got into office,” said Dali Yang (楊大利), a professor of political science at the University of Chicago and Tsinghua University in Beijing.
The US election and the impending leadership changes in China coincide with a growing confidence among the Chinese in their own strengths and more wariness toward the US.
Just 39 percent of those polled in China during the Pew Research Center’s Global Attitudes Project this year described the relationship with the US as cooperative. In 2010, two-thirds of those polled called the relationship cooperative. Only 8 percent saw the relationship as hostile in the 2010; this year 26 percent viewed it that way.
The survey was conducted between March 18 and April 15 this year among 3,177 respondents, a sample designed to reflect the views of about 64 percent of the adult Chinese population, the Pew Research Center said.
Despite the clamor in the US campaign about China, the coverage in Beijing of politics in the US has been relatively modest. Whether the coverage is limited by the party’s distaste for democratic elections is not clear. By contrast, the coverage in China of presidential elections in Taiwan has been more comprehensive.
In China the US presidential debates are available live only to the very small number of households that subscribe to cable television and whose channels include CNN, or some of the households with satellite dishes.
“Americans shouldn’t assume the presidential campaign is watched by people in every second-tier city in China,” said Rui Chenggang (芮成鋼), a prominent television interviewer on CCTV, the state broadcaster, and author of a best-seller, How China Sees the World. “People don’t care about the campaign; they want to know the result.”
However, to show how intertwined China has become in the campaign, Rui posted on his microblog a translation of the candidates’ back and forth in the last debate on their investments in China.
“I wanted to show that neither candidate is separated from China, that China is an inherent part of the campaign,” Rui said.