WASHINGTON - President Barack Obama and Republican challenger Mitt Romney vowed on Monday to get tough on China's trade policies, but they mostly used the Asian giant as a foil to air competing domestic economic programs in their final debate before the November 6 election.
In a showdown that was supposed to be limited to foreign policy, both men focused on the economic aspects of the complex US-China relationship, touching only briefly on the security challenge that fast-rising China poses to a US-led alliance system in Asia.
Human rights, China's support for states that are foes of the United States and intensifying maritime territorial disputes that pit China against US allies Japan and the Philippines went unmentioned in the 90-minute debate in Boca Raton, Florida. Also unmentioned was the impending leadership change in the world's second largest economy, as well as China's economic slowdown, which could have profound consequences for US exporters
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