How would the Republican contenders for the US presidency treat Asia? asks Asia Sentinel’s Khanh Vu Duc

A year from now, the American people will have elected their president for the next four years.

Looking at the polls, President Obama’s chances for re-election are entirely dependent on the Republican candidate, with his chances being “good” against someone like, say, the Libertarian Ron Paul, to “maybe” against Mitt Romney, although the former Massachusetts governor, with a reputation for radical changes in position on issues as the political winds blow, might face some resistance or ambivalence from his more conservative base.

Republican Presidential Debate

Republican presidential candidates and journalists earlier this month. Pic: AP.

But as the interminable televised Republican debates have demonstrated, popularity can rise and fall almost overnight. A year from now, who knows what the playing field will look like? It could be the pizza czar, Herman Cain or the former Speaker of the House of Representatives Newt Gingrich challenging Obama for the White House.

What can be predicted with some certainty, however, is that each Republican candidate has tackled foreign policy in debates, adopting similar but sometimes distinct positions. It is easy to say that Republican foreign policies will differ from Democratic policies, but what about the positions of individual Republican candidates?

When it comes to China, Gingrich, Romney, Cain and Texas governor Rick Perry have expressed similar but differing opinions, a shared belief is that China is equally a concern to national security as well as an economic opportunity. Where views differ is in regards to how candidates’ approach the issue. Assuming one of Republican candidates goes on to win the presidential election, what does that mean for China and Asia as a whole?

Beyond the get-tough language of these particular four candidates, each has taken a position on China with respect to the economy and national security. Gingrich, often considered the intellectual of the party, maintains his position on continued trade with China, choosing instead to tackle China’s human rights violations. Similarly, Cain argues that the only way America can challenge China is to compete and outgrow them economically, while protecting the US from future Chinese cyber-attacks.

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