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Asian Reactions to the 2008 U.S. Presidential Election

Barack Obama and family on Election Night, 2008. - Photo from

Barack Obama's historic candidacy for the presidency of the United States and eventual victory inspired unprecedented interest, not only at home but around the world. Obama was preferred by an enormous margin outside of the U.S. - the Economist magazine even invited the world to "vote" in a "Global Electoral College," in which Obama won, 9,115 to 203 (since participation was voluntary and self-selected, these results cannot be considered statistically valid).

Here, we have compiled a selection of reactions to Obama's victory from English-language news sources from several Asian countries, as well as the reports of a few non-Asian journalists.

Asia/World in General


Asia/World in General

“Around the world, Obama victory sparks cheers”
By Joseph Coleman, Associated Press, November 5, 2008
-- Surveys reactions around the world with a special emphasis on Asia, Africa, and victory parties and novelties in Obama, Japan.

“Asia welcomes U.S election results”
By Kate Pound Dawson, Voice of America, November 5, 2008
-- Brief but informative article that explains why the results of the U.S. election are so important to Asia. Also includes audio version of the report (MP3).

“Election 08: The world weighs in”
By Jennifer Ehrlich, The Boston Globe, October 26, 2008
-- Great article that examines the experiences of American students studying abroad during the 08' election process and how the U.S. election is viewed by foreigners (includes China, Japan, Thailand, India, and Korea).


"Fukui Town of Obama erupts in victory parties"
By Eric Johnston, The Japan Times Online, November 6, 2008 
-- Citizens of the Japanese town that coincidentally shares the name "Obama" celebrate Obama's victory, and also express concerns.

"Obama Town, Japan, reacts"
Associated Press, posted to YouTube November 5 , 2008
-- Raw video footage of the town of Obama celebrating Obama's victory with hula dancing and tears.

"Japan's Reaction to Obama's Victory" 
By About Japan editors, About Japan: A Teacher Resource, November 10, 2008
-- A comprehensive selection of editorials from major Japanese newspapers considering possible effects of the election results on Japan-US relations.  These were chosen for their potential to spark discussion with students.



"China Focus: U.S. Election sparks interest, concern in China"
People's Daily Online (English edition), November 5, 2008
-- Reports on the level of interest in the U.S. election in online communities in China, including opinions of Obama as a person and issues of concern to Chinese.

“China's U.S. election hopes”
By Dinah Gardener, Al Jazeera, October 27, 2008
-- Fascinating article that profiles the views of six people in Beijing regarding the upcoming U.S. election and China.

“China watches U.S. Election with bemusement”
By Barbara Demick, Los Angeles Times, September 6, 2008
-- Interesting article about why American elections mystify the Chinese people.

“Election 08' and the problem of China”
Video, University of Southern California's China Institute
-- A new, 8-part online documentary about the role of China in the upcoming election. Focuses on the American perspective, but can be used to help explain the views of the Chinese interviewed in the previous two articles.



"Indonesian Joy for Obama Win"
By Step Vaessen, Al Jazeera English, November 5, 2008
-- Television report on the celebrations at the school Obama attended in Jakarta as a child. Includes interviews with the children, one of whom is inspired to become a president himself.

"Obama Victory Inspires RI Youth"
By A'an Suryana, The Jakarta Post, November 7, 2008
-- This editorial by a staff writer at Jakarta's daily English language newspaper reports on the enthusiastic response of Indonesian youth ("RI" stands for "Republic of Indonesia") to the U.S. election results and encourages Indonesians to take inspiration from Obama's "rags-to-riches story" in building their own Indonesian civil society that rewards merit.

"Indonesia Responds to Obama Victory"
By Robin Bush, In Asia blog, The Asia Foundation, November 5, 2008
-- A foreigner's analysis of the Indonesian reaction to Obama's win. The Asia Foundation's Country Representative in Jakarta reports on the personal connection many Indonesians feel with Obama. She considers what benefits the Indonesians may be expecting from an Obama presidency and the likelihood that they will receive them.


“Yes, Obama can!”
By Wong Chun Wai, Malaysia Star, October 26, 2008
-- Article discussing Malaysia's general preference and the author's personal preference for Obama, but nevertheless examines both sides.


Last updated July 27, 2012
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