In Obama win, China sees key prize: stability (+video)
President Obama’s reelection was welcomed by China, as well as Japan and South Korea, as the region experiences sharpening tensions over territorial disputes.
Barack Obama’s reelection as president, offering a familiar face and predictable foreign policy, was largely welcomed in Asia as an element of stability in a region where diplomatic tensions are sharpening.Skip to next paragraph
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“It is better for China to have stable relations with the US,” says Niu Jun, a professor at Peking University’s School of International Studies. “The Chinese government has been in close touch with the Obama administration for the last four years; communications are easier with counterparts you are familiar with.”
In Japan, currently locked in a fierce territorial dispute with China over a group of uninhabited islands, “a lot of people will feel relieved” at Mr. Obama’s reelection, says Hiroshi Meguro, who teaches international relations at Nagoya University of Foreign Studies.
“He is more moderate, and people expect policy continuity to be maintained, which is especially important now that Japan has problems with China,” Professor Meguro explains.
The US elections attracted widespread attention in China: The topic was the top trending search term on Twitter-like platforms such as Tencent Weibo and Sina Weibo, which saw 3.4 million tweets on the subject on Election Day.
Though no wide-scale opinion polls were conducted, anecdotally Obama seemed more popular among the Chinese public than Mr. Romney. In a BBC poll, the incumbent outpolled his Republican rival 3 to 1.
“I support the candidate who is friendlier to China, and that is Obama,” said Zhou Qiang, an accountant, as he returned to his office in downtown Beijing after lunch on Wednesday, soon after the election results became clear. “I hope he won’t hurt China’s interests in the future.”
US vote vs. China's leadership transition
Predictably, microblog commentators had some comparisons to make between the freewheeling US presidential election that unfolded just as Chinese leaders were preparing to open the 18th Communist Party Congress on Thursday, the culmination of a secretive leadership transition in which the Chinese public plays no part.
“Americans across the nation are voting,” tweeted Wu Shuilan. “But what about us? We all know the result before the voting starts; we are faster than them.”
But at an event organized by the US embassy in a fancy Beijing hotel, where US and Chinese citizens were invited to watch the election returns on Wednesday, even Chinese guests who had joined in the mock election by casting replicas of San Francisco ballots were uncertain whether the exercise was relevant to China.