As the U.S. Presidential Campaign reaches a climatic end, it is interesting to see that many Chinese, like others throughout the world, seem to have rushed aboard the Obama wagon. While pondering these observations, I ran across an interesting article on Asia Times titled “China falls for Obama’s ‘US dream'”. Here are some excerpts.
Despite Beijing’s history of sound relations with Republican presidents from the United States, recent polls shows popular opinion is bucking the trend, with “hip and unconventional” Democratic presidential candidate Senator Barack Obama an “overwhelming hit” with ordinary Chinese.
The results of the online poll, conducted on the China Daily website by the US Embassy in Beijing, gave Obama a much greater lead over his Republican rival, Senator John McCain, with the support of 75% of Chinese polled. Despite Obama’s tough rhetoric on China’s human rights record and other issues.
“Perhaps his age, energy and even complexion, which signify the American dream, are more appealing to the Chinese,” Song Zhiyuan, who analyzed the survey, told the China Daily.
Rebecca Zhu, a 29-year-old bank employee, agreed. “No Chinese leader is that young,” she said. “Obama is attractive because he is hip and unconventional. He has even used e-mails to advance his campaign.”
The media has been awash with commentaries predicting a new, more sensitive America, vastly different from the country led by current President George W Bush, should Obama win. The popular notion in China that the US is out to impose Western ideals on the world, would also take a hit with the election of a man of African descent.
“I want to see if a black American could become the president,” Xu Kai, 23, who works for a real estate company in Wuxi, Jiangsu province told the China Daily. He added that by electing Obama the Americans could prove the US is not just a country for white people.
McCain, the Republican presidential nominee, has adopted a tough stance on national security, promising to create “a strong military in a dangerous world”. His pledge to commit more troops to Iraq has not been well received in Beijing.
China was angered by the US Defense Department’s recent desicion to sell Taiwan US$6.46 billion worth of weapons, and while John McCain and Obama both endorsed the deal, McCain also said the administration should grant Taiwan’s request for submarines and F-16 fighter jets.
However, the choice is not as clear cut as it first appears. Obama’s criticism of China’s trade practices and his demand that China “play by the international rules” have irked the Chinese leadership, which fears regular admonishments over its human rights records from a Democratic president.
Obama in April called for Bush to boycott the Olympic Games opening ceremony in Beijing in August, saying he would only go to Beijing if he saw progress between the Chinese government and the Dalai Lama.
Obama has also threatened to impose trade sanctions due to concerns over the yawning trade surplus, currency manipulation and intellectual property rights violations. In his first major foreign policy address of his presidential campaign, in April 2007, Obama said, “[O]bviously China is rising, and it’s not going away. They’re neither our enemy nor our friend.”
Yu Honglan, a 47-year-old office cleaner from Beijing, told the China Daily that she was was nonplussed by the surveys and not too interested in the US elections, to be held November 4.
“No matter who becomes the US president, he will not have much to do with my life. I’m concerned about something else – that their falling economy may affect us.”
It’s amazing to see how much the Chinese are falling for Obama! To be honest, I had thought the Chinese would be more nonchalant.
After all, we have all come to realize that U.S.-China relations have become too important to be held hostage by the personality of any single political leader.
And … both McCain and Obama has had made critical, somewhat disturbing comments about China.
The world is certain going through some interesting though uncertain times. So at this critical juncture, it is great to see that both the Chinese and the American people seem to share similarly optimistic and hopeful visions about the future!