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Jon Huntsman Jr. railed against fellow Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney on Monday for Romney's recent declarations that as president he would brand China as a "currency manipulator."

"I think (his China position) is a total, total pandering on the part of Gov. Romney," Huntsman said to Bloomberg Television. "You can get an applause line by saying that you're going to go to war with China, that you're going to slap a tariff, without remembering that you've got … a host of issues that are all part of the U.S.-China relationship. And a trade war would grind it all to a halt, all the while killing small business and exporters in this country, and I don't want that done."

Huntsman cited several specific policy issues as being vulnerable to the ramifications of a U.S.-China trade war: North Korea, Iran sanctions, Pakistan and the South China Sea.

Politico summed up Huntsman's joust at Romney over China policy Saturday during the National Journal/CBS debate this way: "Rather than attack (Romney's) suggestion that the United States formally accuse China of currency manipulation at the World Trade Organization, Huntsman used a question about China as a quiet, teachable moment.

"'First of all, I don't think, Mitt, you can take China to the WTO on currency-related issues,' Huntsman said. 'Second, I don't know that this country needs a trade war with China. … So what should we be doing? We should be reaching out to our allies and constituencies within China. They're called the young people, they're called the Internet generation.'"

The Huntsman campaign posted a YouTube video in the wake of Saturday's debate that highlights the differences on China policy between Huntsman and Romney.

EMAIL: jaskar@desnews.com