U.S. Election: China's View

How is the U.S. election being viewed from abroad? We take a look at several parts of the globe, including Africa, Iraq and Europe — but first, China. While Chinese citizens enjoy some things American — like fast food — they aren't paying a whole lot of attention to the political process in the United States.

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MELISSA BLOCK, Host:

From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Melissa Block.

ROBERT SIEGEL, Host:

And I'm Robert Siegel.

Now, the U.S. presidential election as it's viewed from around the world. We wondered what people overseas are making of the long primary process here in the U.S. or whether they even know who is running. So for the next few minutes, we'll be hearing from our reporters in four cities - London, Baghdad, Johannesburg and Shanghai, where we begin our survey with NPR's Louisa Lim.

(SOUNDBITE OF PEOPLE TALKING)

LOUSIA LIM: It's lunchtime at a busy McDonald's in Shanghai, and the burgers are selling like, well, hotcakes. But while diners here may be fans of American fast food, they're not necessarily followers of U.S. politics.

Nibbling on her french fries, marketing executive Zhou Lingjin(ph) says she's a Hillary supporter.

BLOCK: She is a successful woman. I like her, actually. Yeah.

LIM: And what about Obama?

BLOCK: Obama? I know nothing about him.

LIM: She's not alone. One survey of almost 5,000 Chinese indicates 60 percent support Hillary Clinton, 24 percent back Obama, and only 7 percent prefer John McCain. Yet, Clinton's popularity is by default since many Chinese can't even name any other candidates. Some of those who can, it seems, are swayed by style rather than substance. Like insurance salesman Bou Kim Bai, who says he'd vote for Obama if he could.

MR: Obama is a black man, and I think that - he's young and strong.

Unidentified Man; (Speaking foreign language)

(SOUNDBITE OF CHINESE TV NEWS)

LIM: The campaign has been gaining air time in the state-controlled press. But strangely for a one-party state, the electoral process has been criticized as undemocratic. It's a game for rich people, according to China Business News, with campaign contributors spending money to defend their own interests.

Meanwhile, World Knowledge Magazine lashed out at the delegate system as unfair. When it comes to the official line, analysts say the Chinese government would prefer a Republican president. The recent uptick of China-bashing during campaigning in Ohio is of little concern, analysts say, with simplistic campaign rhetoric increasingly divorced from the post-electoral nuances necessary for dealing with a rising superpower.

Louisa Lim, NPR News, Shanghai.

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