Chinese React to Obama Victory

People in China wonder, online and out loud, what the U.S. presidential election means for them, and for the world.
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A Chinese woman casts a mock vote during an event organized by the U.S. Embassy in Beijing, Nov. 5, 2008.
A Chinese woman casts a mock vote during an event organized by the U.S. Embassy in Beijing, Nov. 5, 2008.

HONG KONGThe Chinese Internet was abuzz Wednesday with the victory in the U.S. presidential elections of Democrat Barack Obama over Republican John McCain, with comments ranging from thoughtful to excited, to uncertain and flippant.

The official Chinese media were quick to call the election result, led by state-run news agency Xinhua. And Internet portal carried the headline "Obama elected as America's first black president," according to media blog

"Today is my birthday and a really good-looking young black guy has got elected president of the United States," wrote blogger Hecaitou, before going on to add that U.S. politics was full of "nonsense."

"Before, after the emergence of bin Laden, all the Republicans had to do was mention the word 'security' and people would support them. Now all the Democrats have to do is mention the word 'change'... Of course McCain couldn't compete with someone as young as Obama. I think he is the U.S. edition of [Taiwan president] Ma Ying-jeou..." he wrote.

Civil rights remembered

Commenting on the post, a user identified as The Girl Grows Old said she welcomed the news.

"I am still very excited. Only 40 years ago, black people had to sit at the back of the bus, and they were kept segregated from white people. Now, a black person has become president," she wrote.

"An American dream come true," she added. "But what about us? What about our Chinese dream?"

Callers to RFA's listener hotlines also commented on the result.

"Forty years ago, Martin Luther King sacrificed his own life to win the integration of black people into American society," a caller surnamed Zhang from the northern province of Hebei said. 

"He also made a great contribution towards the election of Barack Obama as president."

Meanwhile, a Chinese American who voted for Obama at a polling station in Rockville, Maryland, said he opposed the war in Iraq.

"I voted for Obama today because of the Iraq war. I think the war is continuing unnecessarily, and it is meaningless," he said.

"I also think his overall health coverage plan is better than McCain’s."

Democratic hopes

Several online comments asked when China would progress to a more democratic system.

"If Obama lived in China the furthest he could get would be a chairman's spot at the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference," said blogger Aether Woo on Twitter, referring to China's second parliamentary body, which is seen as having little power.

Another netizen commented wryly: "We Chinese are like voyeurs watching other people's elections."

And a Twitterer from Zhejiang wondered: "When will we be able to cast our votes for a Chinese president?"

Some wondered what the news meant for the international community amid the growing financial crisis.

"What effect will a new president have on our country?" asked one user on the Chinese-language update service Jiwai.

Economic woes

"Against the background of the financial crisis, what sort of attitude will the U.S. president and Congress take? According to U.S. expert Zhang Liping at CASS (the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences), it's very hard to know which candidate would be better suited to China's interests," he wrote.

A blogger nicknamed Michael Scofield after the main character in the drama series "Prison Break" predicted a withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq sooner rather than later.

"The U.S. military is tired," 'Scofield' wrote. "Under an Obama presidency, the day will soon come when we see the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq."

According to blogger Plum Blossom Fragrance, confidence was the crucial thing in the current climate.

"There is no miracle cure or elixir which can save America all in a flash. But a president who has the trust of the American people, who has the wisdom and the energy for steadfast perseverance, a president who knows how to put his talents to their best use, will also be the president who was elected on the hopes and dreams of the American people," the blogger wrote.

"Only such a president will inspire confidence in the American people, and give them the courage and the strategy to find a way out of their difficulties."

Chinese-Americans vote

Meanwhile, Chinese Americanswhose turnout levels are usually quite lowjoined what appeared to be one of the highest voter turnout rates in recent American history.

One woman surnamed Zhang said she had just been naturalized as an American citizen this year. "I am ready to hit the polls," she said. "Actually I cancelled the routine mahjong gathering with friends on Tuesday afternoon in order to vote."

Visiting Hong Kong University student Du Cuiying said he was happy to be in New York during the election.

"The United States is a politically well-developed country and quite free. The reason for me to come is that I want to learn things here and compare them with those in Hong Kong. I want to promote Hong Kong’s political development," he said.

Original reporting in Mandarin by Xiao Rong. Mandarin service director: Jennifer Chou. Translated and written for the Web in English by Luisetta Mudie and Chen Ping. Edited by Sarah Jackson-Han.





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