The Key to Obama’s Success in China: Young People

An op-ed in the Christian Science Monitor looks at President Obama’s popularity among Chinese youth and suggests ways he can capitalize on their goodwill during his November visit:

Even older and less idealistic Chinese will tell you that Obama is “better than [George W.] Bush.” To Obama’s good fortune, his predecessor was one against whom it would be rather easy to win a popularity contest.

Despite the tendency here (at least for the average Zhou the Plumber) to view US actions more or less exclusively on the basis of how they affect China, both Mr. Bush’s decision to go to war in Iraq and his arrogant behavior toward the world at large made him immensely unpopular here.

Obama has more going for him, however, than the mere fact that he isn’t George W. Bush.

This visit follows talks in September with his Chinese counterpart, Hu Jintao, at the UN General Assembly opening in New York and Group of 20 summit in Pittsburgh. The possibility that Obama and Mr. Hu will sign a bilateral agreement to combat climate change during Obama’s visit in November stands to garner much positive attention from young people in China.

A face-to-face event with Chinese young people, like his talk with Egyptian students at Cairo University in June, could also go a long way toward cementing hearts and minds among those who hold the future of US-China relations in their hands.

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