* Says China, Russia, jihadism pose threats to West
* Has made tough talk against China a campaign theme
By Lily Kuo
RESTON, Va., Feb 10 U.S. Republican
presidential hopeful Mitt Romney slammed China's "autocratic
model" of capitalism in a speech to technology executives on
Friday, keeping up attacks on the economic powerhouse days
before a visit from a Chinese official expected to be the
country's next leader.
China's rise could ultimately threaten U.S. freedom, said
Romney, seen as the frontrunner in the Republican race for the
nomination to oppose Democratic President Barack Obama in the
Romney couched his usual call for limiting government
regulation of the U.S. economy in the context of a zero-sum
contest with China's fast growing economy.
"China now has a competing strategy which they are selling
around the world and their strategy is this: free enterprise,
of a sort," he said, to laughter from the audience, "combined
Chinese Vice President Xi Jinping, who is expected to be
China's next president, is to be in the United States next week
on a visit that could set the mood for relations in the next
decade. Both sides want Xi's visit to encourage long-term
cooperation between the world's two biggest economies.
Romney has made tough talk on China a centerpiece of his
campaign's economic message. He has called the country a cheater
and said that if elected president he would seek to label
Beijing a currency manipulator.
In his remarks on Friday, Romney said in addition to China,
Russia and jihadism threatened to compete with the United States
and the West for world leadership.
He said Russia was competing through its use of energy
resources and other commodities "to power a new, robust military
to threaten the world." The "jihadist model," he said, "is to
cause the collapse of the other three and be the last man
"All three of the competitors to the west and to America are
based on authoritarianism," Romney said.
"Only if America succeeds as the most powerful model in the
world, the most powerful economy, the most powerful military can
we ensure our kids and our grandkids and theirs that they will
enjoy freedom," he said.
Romney spoke to the Northern Virginia Technology Council, an
audience friendly to his core message that he is the candidate
best equipped to right a still struggling U.S. economy.
"I'd never heard it put quite like that. With regulations,
then on top of that you have us on a playing field with China
and Russia, then it is very difficult," said Travis Smith, 34,
who works at a science and technology consulting company in