The Day After: Obama and China (Updated)

On Dissent’s website, Daniel Bell, a professor at Tsinghua University, writes about a lack of enthusiasm for Obama’s election that he has seen among his students:

So why aren’t Chinese students and intellectuals gripped by Obama-mania to the same extent as their counterparts abroad? One key factor is that relations between China and the U.S. have been good since the terrorist attacks of September 11, when the Bush administration turned its attention away from China and toward other perceived threats. Hence, there is less passion for an alternative approach to U.S. policy in China. What Obama said about China policy during his campaign—more protectionism, attacks on the Chinese government for “manipulating” its currency—could make things worse for China, and his views regarding North Korea and Taiwan do not point to any substantial improvements over current American foreign policy.

Nor does Obama’s Hollywood-like story of the historically oppressed minority group member who makes it to the top via talent and luck resonate much in China. What would be the equivalent? A Tibetan who rises to the top of the Chinese Communist Party? It doesn’t sound very inspiring.

Update: For more views about the recent election, see Caijing’s poll of readers, in both English and Chinese, about their views of Obama and his incoming administration:

It appears that the result of Tuesday’s election was of no surprise to the respondents, as almost 90 percent of both groups were expecting Obama’s victory. However, while over 60 percent of the Chinese readers believed that loss of faith in the incumbent administration was the primary factor in Obama’s win, many of those who took the English survey gave credit to the Obama’s policy promises. Neither group thought that race or the candidates’ character had a significant influence on voters.

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