Where Republican presidential candidates stand on China

China has become a major political issue for America this election year, with presidential candidates casting about for their own take on how to deal with the emerging superpower.

Writing on the website of the Carnegie Center for International Peace, Michael D. Swaine and Oliver Palmer break down where the GOP candidates stand on China.

Former US Ambassador to China Jon Huntsman, who left the race recently, was widely regarded as the candidate with the best grasp of China. With Huntsman gone, the Republican field looks somewhat shallow when it comes to knowledge and policy toward the world's second-largest economy.

More from GlobalPost: Jon Huntsman leaves presidential race (VIDEO)

Of the candidates still standing, Swaine and Palmer appear unimpressed. They describe frontrunner Mitt Romney as focusing almost exclusively on economic issues rather than security concerns related to China and say his views are "narrowly expressed, leaving many issues untouched and others only indirectly addressed."

More from GlobalPost: US needs popular support for viable foreign policy

Romney still comes off better than his main threat. As Swaine and Palmer write on the Carnegie Center's website:

"Newt Gingrich, Romney’s main rival in the primaries, has not articulated a coherent policy, choosing instead to employ fear-mongering rhetoric about a threatening China. Indeed, Gingrich’s policy statements fail to exhibit a detailed understanding of China, despite his profession that he has 'been studying China since the 1960s.'"

President Obama gained fans for an increasingly tough and nuanced China policy. Republicans might want to study up.

More from GlobalPost: Florida debate roundup: Five highlights (VIDEO)

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