WASHINGTON Republican presidential contender Mitt Romney said on Wednesday Chinese businesses were the "worst offenders" of global trade rules as his campaign vowed he would "get tough" with China if he wins in 2012.
Romney's campaign took aim at President Barack Obama's China trade policies, saying the Democrat had not followed through on a pledge to take Beijing "to the mat" over unfair trade practices and currency manipulation.
"We will crack down on cheaters like China and protect the intellectual property and the jobs of American workers, and American enterprises. And I will do that if I am president," Romney said at a campaign stop in Pataskala, Ohio.
Romney, in comments confirmed by a campaign spokeswoman, said Chinese businesses were the world's "worst offenders" when it came to following trade rules.
In an e-mail to supporters, Romney's campaign policy director suggested Obama's policies had not persuaded China to abandon trade practices that give Chinese companies an unfair advantage.
"They steal our technology, manipulate their currency, and put up barriers that prevent us from competing," Lanhee Chen wrote.
Chen wrote that would not be tolerated if Romney became president. "He will get tough with China."
(Reporting by JoAnne Allen; Editing by Peter Cooney)