China expects continuity, fears trade protection from Obama

Business Materials 5 November 2008 10:47 (UTC +04:00)

China expects continuity but fears trade protectionism once Barack Obama takes office as US president, a leading scholar said on Wednesday.

"China's expectation of the new president is the same as the whole world's expectation, that is, to develop US finance and the economy away from the global financial crisis and economic recession," said Shi Yinhong, an international relations expert at People's University in Beijing.

"Meanwhile, China hopes that he (Obama) will develop the cooperation that already exists between China and the United States," Shi told Deutsche Presse-Agentur dpa.

"If there is any dispute, we should negotiate peacefully," he said, adding that he feared trade disputes may escalate between the two countries if global financial problems persist.

"If the financial crisis is revived, or if the US is not satisfied with what China can do in financial cooperation, I think trade disputes between China and the US will develop more than ever," Shi said.

Shi said the handling of economic and financial problems would be "a big challenge" for Obama.

"The election of Obama means that most US citizens desire a big change in the economic and financial situation and policy," Shi said.

But Shi warned that "many voters' expectations cannot be realized, at least in a short time."

Speaking on Tuesday before the election, Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang also said China expected continuity in diplomatic ties.

"We hope, no matter which party comes into power, or who will enter the White House, Sino-US constructive and cooperative ties will further develop," Qin told reporters.

A pre-election online poll conducted by the US embassy via the website of the official China Daily newspaper found that 75 per cent of Chinese supported Obama over his electoral rival John McCain, the newspaper said.

Another poll of nearly 2,800 Chinese by Horizon Research suggested that about 36 per cent were following news of the US presidential election.

Dozens of expats from the United States and other Western nations gathered at Frank's Place, a popular sports bar decorated with hundreds of small American flags, for a special election-day breakfast accompanied by CNN live broadcasts.

The US embassy also held an election party at a Beijing hotel lasting until early afternoon.

Nearly 100 mostly Democrat-supporting US citizens in their 20s and 30s crowded into The Saddle bar, erupting into applause, cheers, popping champagne corks and shouts of "We did it!" as CNN broadcast Obama's victory speech.

Many customers wore T-shirts, on sale for 350 yuan (50 dollars) donated towards Obama's campaign fund, bearing the Chinese and English messages "hope" and "Americans abroad for Obama."

"In his speech, he (Obama) hit on all the points that were crucial to why I voted for him," Traci Smith, a managing editor at a Beijing-based business information company, said at The Saddle.

"Thank God it's over!," Smith said of the outgoing presidency of George W Bush.

Some ordinary Chinese said they hoped the election of a new president would lead to less aggressive US foreign policy.

"I don't like America," said Li Wang, a Beijing taxi driver in his early 50s. "They are making war and so many people have died."

"So long as they don't make war it will be better (with a new president)," he said.

Li said he was also concerned about the problem of "discrimination by whites against blacks" in the United States.

He drove his car using a knob bearing the US flag on his steering wheel.

"I didn't buy it," Li said of the steering knob. "Our company provided it."