Jeff Jacoby

In his 2010 book "No Apology," Mitt Romney has a lot to say about China, much of it unfavorable. He writes of Beijing's "brutal repression and incarceration of dissidents." He decries the brazenness of Chinese enterprise, with its "rampant theft of intellectual property from Western businesses." He warns that China's "aggressive pursuit" of cyber-warfare capabilities has made it "the most active cyber-combatant in the world." He details the ominous Chinese military buildup in combat aircraft, submarines, and ballistic missiles. He laments the communist government's willingness to shield the odious regimes in Iran and Sudan from international sanction.

Nevertheless, Romney's criticism of China has its limits. Nowhere in his book does he characterize China as a hostile trade foe, or condemn its currency policies as "cheating," or call for the imposition of protectionist tariffs.

Yet on the presidential campaign trail these days, the former Massachusetts governor routinely slams the Chinese government, vowing that on "Day One" as president he'll designate China a "currency manipulator" and impose tariffs on Chinese exports to the United States. "We've allowed China to just walk all over us," Romney fumed during an interview with Sean Hannity the other day. He dismisses concerns about starting a trade war with America's largest foreign creditor. The only "alternative to confronting China," he wrote this month, "is allowing the Chinese to take by trade surrender what we fear to lose in a trade war."


Jeff Jacoby

Jeff Jacoby is an Op-Ed writer for the Boston Globe, a radio political commentator, and a contributing columnist for Townhall.com.