(REUTERS) - US Republican candidate Carly Fiorina, who recently got a boost in the polls following last week's debate, said on Tuesday that whoever is elected needs to know how to use its leverage over China.
Her comments came as China's president, Xi Jinping, kicked off his US tour in Washington state.
"The Chinese government has made a deal with their people and the deal is this: Chinese people will tolerate repression, censorship, awful safety standards, killing pollution," Ms Fiorina told an audience in Charleston, South Carolina.
"They will tolerate all this in return for an economy that is growing fast enough to lift millions of people out of poverty year after year after year," she added.
Ms Fiorina said that that gave the US leverage, "because we are China's largest market. They cannot grow at the rate they need to grow unless we continue to supply their largest market", she said.
"We need a president that understands how to use that leverage."