(Reuters) - U.S. politicians readily muscle up to talk tough against China on the campaign trail, charging its policies undermine American manufacturing, but two key planks of the argument for criticizing Beijing are crumbling.
The Chinese currency has risen 31 percent against the dollar over the past seven years, eroding a chunk of the price advantage Chinese exports once enjoyed on world markets. At the same time, China's huge trade surplus with the world has shriveled.
Yet Republican White House hopeful Mitt Romney says at every turn that as president he would declare China a currency manipulator from day one, and he regularly criticizes Beijing for unfair trade practices.
President Barack Obama, a Democrat, used the backdrop of a lock factory in America's industrial heartland in February to berate China for failing to "play by the same rules" on trade.