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For the US, China is both friend and foe

Published time: February 14, 2012 23:24
Edited time: February 15, 2012 08:46

UNITED STATES, Washington : US President Barack Obama shakes hands with Chinese Vice President Xi Jinping during meetings in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, DC, February 14, 2012. (AFP Photo / Saul Loeb)

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He loves me, he loves me not. When it comes to its relationship with the United States, that age old question is one China has every right to ask.

Top US beass both praise China and envy it, for its ability to do whatever it wants.

"Right now china can disconnect parts of its internet in case of war we need to have that too," said Sen. Joseph Lieberman (I-CT)

GOP Presidential Candidate Newt Gingrich said the USwould be able to create jobs much faster if only it followed in the footsteps of China 

"The Chinese pay zero capital-gains tax," Gingrich said.

And President Obama said, “China builds the best railroads, the best schools, the best airports in the world. “

But it turns out those chocolate covered compliments seem to come just as frequently as those cold-hearted criticisms, from human rights to currency devaluation to trade.

 “We finally need to confront the issue of trade with China. All to often, China has been competing in a way that is tilting the playing field and is unfair to U.S. workers,” Obama said.

In addition to the President, those hoping to take his job also tend to flip flop on China.

“These guys are after us and looking for ways to harm us,” GOP Presidential Candidate Mitt Romney said. 

But he also had this to say:

“China doesn’t want us to bury us. They want to see us succeed and thrive so we can buy more Chinese products.”

Ivan Eland, a senior fellow at The Independent Institute, said the paradox transcends the rhetoric.

“We borrow a lot of money from China too so it’s quite a curious thing that we’re really borrowing money to pay for defending other countries from China.  I mean, that’s what we’re really doing.”

The mixed messages are reaching the masses as well.

In a recent Gallup poll, by 52 percent to 32 percent, Americans were more likely to name China than the United States as the leading economic power in the world today, even though it’s not.

However, in a separate survey taken by Pew Research Center, when asked which country represents the greatest danger, China came in second only after Iran.

In life and in love there appears to be a fine line between resentment and respect.

“I want to beat China,” said GOP Candidate Rick Santorum.  "I want to go to war with China and make America the most attractive place in the world to do business.”

While still in the race to win the GOP nomination, Michele Bachmann said, "If you look at China, they don't have food stamps. They save for their own retirement security. They don't have the modern welfare state. And China's growing."

Perhaps like most relationships, there’s nothing simple about the one between the U.S. and China.  There are disagreements about who gets to take the lead when, how to spend money and how to raise the children. Regardless, it’s most likely a relationship that will be around for decades to come.

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