On a campaign trip to Cincinnati, Obama said his administration had filed its eighth case against China with the World Trade Organization, this one charging China with unfairly subsidizing its automobile and automobile parts industry.
As Chinese cars are rarely sold in the United States, the battleground markets at stake are economies in Asia, South America, Europe and Africa, where U.S. companies compete more directly with Chinese firms, The New York Times reported.
For Obama, the challenge is also political. Standing up to China has become a central debate between Obama and former Gov. Mitt Romney, the Republican party's presidential candidate.
Romney said last week he would stand up to China, declaring them a currency manipulator on his first day in office.
Obama on Monday pointed to the alleged Romney track record as a businessman, saying, "you cannot stand up to China when all you have done is send them our jobs."
"Here's the thing: His experience has been owning companies that were called pioneers in the business of outsourcing jobs to countries like China," Obama said.
In Ohio, 54,000 or more jobs are connected to the automobile parts industry, USA Today reported.
Tens of thousands more jobs in the state are connected to the industry in manufacturing, sales and repair.
Including steelworkers and others who work in raw materials, about 850,000 jobs in Ohio are involved in vehicles, the Times said.
Romney, in turn, accused the president of exploiting the issue for political gain.
"President Obama's credibility on this issue has long since vanished. I will not wait until the last months of my presidency to stand up to China, or do so only when votes are at stake," Romney said in a statement.
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