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Obama contradicts Clinton, calls China an ‘adversary’

President Barack Obama called China an "adversary" of the United States for the first time during tonight’s debate, changing his own administration’s messaging on the U.S.-China relationship and contradicting his own secretary of state. "China is both an adversary, but also a potential partner," Obama said during the debate. "China is doesn’t have to be ...

President Barack Obama called China an "adversary" of the United States for the first time during tonight's debate, changing his own administration's messaging on the U.S.-China relationship and contradicting his own secretary of state.

"China is both an adversary, but also a potential partner," Obama said during the debate.

President Barack Obama called China an "adversary" of the United States for the first time during tonight’s debate, changing his own administration’s messaging on the U.S.-China relationship and contradicting his own secretary of state.

"China is both an adversary, but also a potential partner," Obama said during the debate.

"China is doesn’t have to be an adversary," Romney responded.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton appears to agree with Romney, not her boss. She’s said on several occasions that China is not an adversary and doesn’t have to become one.

"Now, some believe that China on the rise is, by definition, an adversary. To the contrary, we believe that the United States and China can benefit from and contribute to each other’s successes," Clinton said in one her first speeches in office in 2009.

Apparently one of those "some" people is President Obama.

Still, as the Obama administration has became more wary of China’s actions and intentions, Clinton has avoided calling China an "adversary." Asked last year if China were a "friend, foe, or adversary," she declined to say whether it were any one of the three.

"Well, my hope is that we have a normal relationship, a very positive, cooperative, comprehensive relationship, where in some areas we are going to compete – there’s no doubt about that – but in many areas we’re going to cooperate. And we’ve seen that pattern in the last two years and it’s a pattern that I think reflects the reality and the complexity of our relationship," she said.

Josh Rogin covers national security and foreign policy and writes the daily Web column The Cable. His column appears bi-weekly in the print edition of The Washington Post. He can be reached for comments or tips at josh.rogin@foreignpolicy.com.

Previously, Josh covered defense and foreign policy as a staff writer for Congressional Quarterly, writing extensively on Iraq, Afghanistan, Guantánamo Bay, U.S.-Asia relations, defense budgeting and appropriations, and the defense lobbying and contracting industries. Prior to that, he covered military modernization, cyber warfare, space, and missile defense for Federal Computer Week Magazine. He has also served as Pentagon Staff Reporter for the Asahi Shimbun, Japan's leading daily newspaper, in its Washington, D.C., bureau, where he reported on U.S.-Japan relations, Chinese military modernization, the North Korean nuclear crisis, and more.

A graduate of George Washington University's Elliott School of International Affairs, Josh lived in Yokohama, Japan, and studied at Tokyo's Sophia University. He speaks conversational Japanese and has reported from the region. He has also worked at the House International Relations Committee, the Embassy of Japan, and the Brookings Institution.

Josh's reporting has been featured on CNN, MSNBC, C-Span, CBS, ABC, NPR, WTOP, and several other outlets. He was a 2008-2009 National Press Foundation's Paul Miller Washington Reporting Fellow, 2009 military reporting fellow with the Knight Center for Specialized Journalism and the 2011 recipient of the InterAction Award for Excellence in International Reporting. He hails from Philadelphia and lives in Washington, D.C. Twitter: @joshrogin

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