Monday, November 3, 2008

Betting on Change

In the summer of 2007 just as the race for the US Democratic leadership was starting to heat up, many Chinese supported Hillary Clinton.

Why? "She could be the first woman in the White House," was what many replied.

Others explained they were familiar with her since her husband Bill had been president before.

But many foreigners, especially young American expats in Beijing were pushing for Barack Obama.

To them, he represented change.

They were tired of George W Bush's prolonged war in Iraq that seemed to make no progress, pushing the economy further into debt. To them, he did nothing to inspire young people to be proud of their country.

Obama's background of working in the rough neighbourhoods of Chicago and his philosophy of talking to people and listening to what they have to say has given people hope that perhaps now they will be heard.

For the Chinese, Clinton seemed like a sure thing, but they were wary of her attacks against China, especially when melamine was found in petfood, leading her to criticize Chinese food quality standards. Nevertheless, they still felt she had much more experience in politics than Obama.

But over a year later, and after Clinton finally exited stage right for Obama to fight Republican John McCain for the White House, the Chinese have jumped on the bandwagon.

They too are eagerly watching from the sidelines, curious to see if a black man can become the 44th President of the United States.

There was no question the Chinese are hoping for the Democrats to win -- China disliked Bush for the war in Iraq and now with the US economy tanking, it's dragging the most populous nation along with it with less demands for Chinese-made goods.

Also, a large number of Chinese people who are engaged in international affairs get their information from the Internet, and this segment of the population are young people. So it's no wonder they are keen for a 47-year-old like Obama to beat 72-year old McCain.

Perhaps this is a veiled wish the Chinese are hoping for the changing of the guard in their country too.

One can only hope.

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