A leading U.S. presidential candidate says that, if elected, he will immediately order trade sanctions against China for currency manipulation.
Republican Mitt Romney, who was until recently the front-runner in the race for the right to challenge President Barack Obama next year, made the threat in a jobs-creation program announced this week.
Campaign analysts say Romney's proposal is an early sign that criticizing China may be popular among candidates in the 2012 presidential race.
He said that if elected, on his first day in office he will sign an order sanctioning China for unfair trade practices unless it moves quickly to make its currency fully convertible. Many of China's trading partner's complain that China achieves an unfair trading advantage by keeping the value of its currency artificially low.
Romney also promised measures to punish China for pirating intellectual property.
His position has sparked controversy even among conservative Republicans, many of whom oppose trade sanctions in general. The editorially conservative newspaper Wall Street Journal denounced the plan in an editorial, saying it would be folly to start a trade war with China.
Romney, as a successful businessman and former governor of the state of Massachusetts, is seen as the most business-friendly candidate in the race for the Republican nomination. Mr. Obama is considered vulnerable in the November 2012 election because of public dissatisfaction over high unemployment and slow economic growth.
Romney was leading most polls among Republican voters until Rick Perry, the tough talking governor from the state of Texas, entered the race last month with positions appealing to many hard-line conservatives.