Chinese net users and state-run media react to US presidential election, differently

November 8, 2012Jing GaoNo Comments, , , , , , , ,

As Americans eyed anxiously the election of their next president, Chinese social media sites have been abuzz over the tight race between Mitt Romney and incumbent Obama. The excitement of the online crowd rose to fever pitch after the results were announced. According to the measurement given by Sina Weibo, Chinese hybrid of Facebook and Twitter, altogether more than 25 million posts have been published on the microblogging site using the hash tag ‘U.S. election,’ 6.5 million of which were put out within the past 24 hours.

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Many users cheered over the victory of President Obama, who enjoys more popularity in China than his opponent Mitt Romney for being more familiar and predictable to and less harsh on China.

One wrote, “Obama is re-elected! Quite good. So there won’t be a new broom that sweeps too clean.”

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Another commented, “I always feel Romney doesn’t have the kind of president look…I have inexplicable repulsion and aversion for him…It seems there are people who agree with me. Haha~”

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Other netizens offered funny twists to their readings of Obama’s victory.

@CoffeewithCroissant: Obama is re-elected. I guess his wife must be most happy about the fact that they finally don’t have to move. Otherwise, how devastating it would be to pack that big chunk of baggage at the White House!

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@xundaosheng: Obama’s re-election as the U.S. president is: First, victory of family planning: Obama has two daughters; Romney has five sons and 18 grandchildren. Second, victory of diaosi, the unprivileged underdogs: Obama is the second generation black underdog of Kenyan descent; Romney is the second generation of officials and rich people. Third, victory of the younger: Obama is 51; Romney is 65. Four, victory of heartthrobs: Obama is handsomely black; Romney is senilely white. Five, victory of gays. Obama supports gay marriage!

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While watching the intense race from afar, Chinese net users inevitably contemplated on the political reality they are facing at home, especially at a time when China is going to witness its own leadership transition within a few days.

Many took notes during Obama’s victory speech and highlighted one particular paragraph.

@风青杨: This is the most moving and valuable sentence spoken on the U.S. Election Day.

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@倩烨归来: ‘As we speak, people in distant nations are risking their lives right now just for a chance to argue about the issues that matter…’ Upon hearing this sentence, I felt like crying.

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Some openly yearn for an opportunity to participate in a general election rather than have their future leader pre-determined by a small circle of patriarchs behind closed doors, whereas many more hint at it with their use of humor and satire.

@zongxiaokai: Election in another country, as an effective way for the people to participate in politics, has made waves in public opinion at home…but we can only stand on sidelines and sing praises for our leadership transition and let the 2000 people decided long ago to represent 80 million to elect the seven or nine people decided long ago. What a shame!

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@wukongbiao: Americans say, “I voted in the morning and will know who will be the next U.S. president in the evening.” Chinese say disdainfully, “I don’t have to vote, and I have known who will be the next Chinese president since five years ago.” North Koreans laugh, “Pooh! I knew since early childhood who will be the next general secretary of North Korea.” Japanese say miserably, “Damn! I frequently vote, and I still don’t know who is the incumbent prime minister.”

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Commentators at traditional state-run media were also quick in their response to the news. Most have, unsurprisingly, ramped up its own smear campaign against the U.S.-style democracy.

On Sina Weibo, Hu Xijin, editor-in-chief of Global Times, a Communist tabloid with nationalistic and conservative leaning, congratulated Obama on his re-election, but criticized Secretary of State Hillary Clinton as “short-sighted champion of U.S. interests” and wished her successor could be “a notch above her in terms of both vision and breadth of mind.”

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Global Times also featured Obama’s second term in its front page under the headline, “Exhausted Obama Leads America on Arduous Journey,” and called the election the one “with the greatest differences of opinion”, “the most evil mudslinging” and “the highest cost”.

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In an editorial published on People’s Daily, the Communist mouthpiece, on November 8, the paper says that the U.S. presidential election is a “bewildering political show fully driven by money,” and the domestic policies that “politicians gushed about are hardly convincing.”

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China Daily published a commentary on its Chinese website on November 7 with the headline, “A Look at Hypocrisy of American-style Democracy through Presidential Election,” in which the author, Wu Zurong, argues, the electoral system “only elects people that represent the monopoly bourgeoisie”, is “seriously out of touch with the people” and is “faced with touch challenges, as it is too rotten to adapt to the reality.”

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Beijing Evening News concludes that “the U.S.-China relations will still face challenges in the future,” following an interview with U.S. watcher Zhang Guoqing, who said that “by grinding down China,” Obama “did not do well in his first term”, which also caused harm to the U.S. economic recovery;  there will be difficult times ahead.

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In the following week, in the words of Global Times, “Eyes of the world will be on the 18th Party Congress,” as China, the largest authoritarian state, prepares for its new era.

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