Still looking for a message that resonates, Mitt Romney has taken a greater interest in China in recent days, including a new attack ad that blames President Obama for the growth in Chinese manufacturing capacity. As Jamelle Bouie noted, "[T]here's an obvious problem with this line of attack; it's completely false."
That's right, but there are less-obvious problems, too. The Boston Globe reported over the weekend, for example, that Romney invested in Chinese manufacturing companies, at least one of which was surrounded by barbed wire and guard towers, and packed with 12 women per dormitory room.
China's official Xinhua news agency published a strongly worded English-language commentary on Friday, noting in reference to Romney, "It is rather ironic that a considerable portion of this China-battering politician's wealth was actually obtained by doing business with Chinese companies before he entered politics."
The Obama campaign has even launched a counter-offensive, releasing this ad. For those who can't watch clips online, the voice-over tells viewers, "Mitt Romney? Tough on China? Romney's companies were called pioneers in shipping U.S. manufacturing jobs overseas. He invested in firms that specialized in relocating jobs to low wage countries like China. Even today part of Romney's fortune is invested in China. Romney's never stood up to China. All he's done is send them our jobs."
And it's against this backdrop that the White House will push back again against China at the WTO today, demanding that China stop subsidizing auto parts made for export.
I suspect the Romney campaign will say the move is only motivated by campaign considerations, but it's worth emphasizing that the Obama administration has been aggressive on this front for a long while.