- The Washington Times - Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Beijing – China’s state-run media greeted news of Barack Obama’s victory with rare exuberance after following orders to avoid displaying a clear preference for either candidate during the presidential campaign.

Shaking off its shackles, the China Daily said in a commentary: “Like American people on the other side of the Pacific, we are elated, too, at the landslide win of Democrat Barack Obama.

“We wish him all the best in bringing America out of the present financial quagmire as soon as possible, and [to] re-energize the world’s largest economy with his brand new ideas and vision.”

While more sober in tone, Chinese President Hu Jintao spoke of a “new historic era” in a congratulatory message sent to Obama shortly after his win was confirmed.

“I look forward to working together with you to continuously strengthen dialogue and exchanges between our two countries with a view to taking our constructive and cooperative relationship to a new high and bringing greater benefits to people of our two countries and the rest of the world,” Hu said.

Expatriate bars in the Chinese capital were packed, largely with Obama supporters, following the election coverage on giant screens. Fund-raising continued long past the announcement of the results. T-shirts emblazoned with the three Chinese characters for Obama were being sold by Americans Abroad for Obama for $50 a piece.

Chinese head waitress Qiqi Jiang, 23, said she had yet to come across a single supporter of McCain.

“I’m delighted Obama has won. He is young, he has shown he has new ideas and has proven his ability throughout the campaign. I really believe he can make a difference,” she said.

Sales manager Lei Xiuli, who followed the coverage online from her office, expressed her surprise that Americans had voted in a black president.

“His win has really changed my view of America. I have read a lot about discrimination against black people in America. Now I realize that it’s actually not that bad,” she said.

Chinese academics are wary that Obama’s trade concerns could prove an initial obstacle to the development of U.S.-China relations but remain confident that any impact on long-term policy will be minimal.

Wu Xinbo, vice president of the Shanghai Institute of American Studies, was effusive in his assessment of Obama’s success, saying it demonstrated the “greatness” of the U.S.

“The U.S. is sending a very encouraging signal to the world and it shows the American people have come a long way since the days of Martin Luther King,” he said.

Referring to Obama’s victory speech, in which the president-elect spoke of “the power of our democracy”, Wu said: “In many regards the U.S. represents more progressive ideas and China should learn from the U.S.

“China should have its own traditions, its own ways, but should not view this [democratic system] as alien to its own cultural values. It should be open-minded.”

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