What Does China Think of Barack Obama?

Dear Jean,

I am curious about how Chinese people view Obama’s election. Are they excited? How much do they know about him? Do they think that he will be good for Sino-US relations? Sorry for all the questions but I am writing a paper about the impact of Obama’s election worldwide and I would appreciate any insights that you could give me.

Thank You,

Meg in Colorado Springs

Jean Answers Meg’s Question

Dear Meg,

Thank you for your interesting question. In fact, China seems to be buzzing with excitement about the election of Barack Obama. Students that we have spoken with overwhelmingly supported Obama are are thrilled that America has finally elected a minority to the highest office in the nation.

With that said, it is clear at least to me that few here know much about Obama. I asked a group of college students recently what they knew about Obama’s plans to deal with the financial crisis or his stance on China. Not one person was able to tell me anything about him other than “he is America’s first black President.” I was also surprised to discover that no one remembered Obama’s strong urging of President Bush not to attend the Olympic Games in Beijing in August.

Thus, it seems that while China, like most of the world, has been caught up in all of the media hype surrounding Obama, the people here do not really understand him as a politician.

By the way, our own Robert Vance covered some of these issues back in July when he wrote an article entitled “Is China Ready for Barack Obama?” While I do not necessarily agree with all of his points, I think many of his observations are still relevant.

As always, you can add comments at the bottom. I would love to hear from other foreign teachers who may have a different take on how Obama is being viewed in China.

Ask Jean about China is a weekly feature on TeachAbroadChina.com. We welcome any questions related to living and working in China. Feel free to submit your questions by clicking here. We look forward to hearing from you.

7 Responses to What Does China Think of Barack Obama?

  1. kakert says:

    Hey Josh, I know Xinjiang folks really well, especially the muslim ethnics, & you do not have any real idea at all as to their real thoughts on the subject of Obama. If they choose to share with you their real thoughts as they have done so with me then maybe you’ll realise what they’re really smiling about!

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  2. kakert says:

    The US are invaders themselves. Look at ya own history & stop being so blind sighted!

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  3. kakert says:

    Sick of the hype already. See what he’s made of after he’s sitting on the throne.We know who really rules the US of A..
    Hang on, I saw Barrack on TV recently…playing golf..isn’t his name really Barrack Woods or is it Tiger Obama?
    Don’t build the dude into a demi-god..he is just a human after all , & good luck to him, but there’s already flaws emerging.
    I don’t think the Chinese are as gullible as many Westies are.

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  4. seed says:

    I’m in china[HIZHOU] and i think china still got
    something to do with an atitude called racism. Perhaps, it seem
    to me that whatever thought and emotion CHINA have about Obama
    being elected as president of USA is UNDISCOVERED here but
    what i’m so anxious about china becoming and
    breaking through the act of racism against black
    people and even all foreigners in china.This act is on our nerves
    here. Losing of jobs,All king of ridiculous words, making
    one to turn into a jerk and even stress.

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  5. Vick P. says:

    @Annie Nun,

    What rift are you talking about? Don’t you realize that America has not been attacked since 2001? Bush has fulfilled his number one duty and protected our country. You are blind not to realize that.

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  6. Annie Nun says:

    I think that Barack Obama must be causing excitement all over the world. During his European tour a few months back, he was received in a way that reminded me of John F Kennedy’s European trip back when I was a girl. I’m hoping Obama can heal the rift that Bush so idiotically started during his blighted term. Go Obama!

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  7. Josh says:

    I’m a teacher up here in Xinjiang and I’ve actually been surprised by the diverse reactions to Obama up here. Because of the large portion of minorities who inhabit this area, there is large support for Obama simply because of his ethnic status. We had a good debate about Obama as president last week with my adult class and while I was impressed with the knowledge of a few, most (like you mentioned) were completely oblivious to any of his policies.

    My favorite was a woman who, when I asked why she supported Obama, told me that “He is handsome”.

    I just laughed to myself and though that ironically I would be surprised if many people in America could answer much better. Change all the uses of the word “China” with “Americans” in this article and come to your own conclusion.

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