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China Greets Obama's Re-Election With Muted Relief


In China, President Obama's re-election has been greeted with muted relief, as NPR's Louisa Lim reports from Beijing.

LOUISA LIM, BYLINE: As the vote closed in the U.S., ballots were still being cast in Beijing at a mock voting booth at the U.S. embassy's election party. For Chinese students like Lily Zhang and Zhang Weiwen, the novelty of voting was a heady experience.

LILY ZHANG: It was great. The first time I vote for the American president. That's very amazing and I'm very honored.

LIM: So who did you vote for?

ZHANG: Obama.

LIM: Why?

ZHANG WEIWEN: I think he's cute. Even though this is not a real vote, I feel excited because I have the right and it was very important.

LIM: On the other side of the room, guests posed with cardboard cutouts of the two challengers. Throughout the campaign, China's not expressed a preference either way. But a big cheer echoed through the room after the networks began calling for President Obama. It's just one day before China's political event of the decade, a party congress where power will be handed over to a new generation of leaders.

Author Zhang Lijia believes the coincidence of timing has highlighted the gap between the two political systems.

ZHANG LIJIA: There's always a sense of frustration, but also fascination with America. You know, people can have the right to vote for leaders, while we don't. But I think that the timing made the frustration more acute.


LIM: The excitement about the mock vote stands in sharp contrast to political apathy on the streets of Beijing. Seen from the Chinese capital, the U.S. election is a stark reminder of the elite nature of Chinese politics, reminding many Chinese about the lack of popular participation in their country's future. Louisa Lim, NPR News, Beijing. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Beijing Correspondent Louisa Lim is currently attending the University of Michigan as a Knight-Wallace Fellow. She will return to her regular role in 2014.

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