Children in Shanghai next to a wax figure of President Obama at the

local branch of Madame Tussauds Wax Museum, Nov. 12.



China Daily, People's Republic of China

Obama Can Teach Shanghai Officials a Thing or Two


This article either indicates an opening up of China's state-run media, or officials in Shanghai have likely done something terrible to anger Beijing. Whatever the case, in this op-ed from the China Daily, columnist Hong Liang uses the imminent visit of Barack Obama to explain why young people in Shanghai love the president - and loath the 'authoritarian excess' that critics regard as the hallmark of the Beijing regime.


By Hong Liang



November 14, 2009


People's Republic of China - China Daily - Original Article (English)

President Obama shakes hands with the leader of Singapore, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, at the Asia-Pacific Economic Summit.


BBC NEWS VIDEO : China visit sparks Obama-mania, November 15, 00:01:26RealVideo

Shanghai has caught Obama fever.


Scheduled on Monday to make a grand appearance in the mainland's most cosmopolitan city during his first visit to China, U.S. President Barack Obama is revered by young people here as much for his superstar appeal as for being the leader of the world's sole superpower.


At roadside shops and online stores, souvenirs bearing Obama's image, including T-shirts, notebooks, badges, mobile phone cases and transportation card stickers, are selling by the thousands. Although his itinerary in Shanghai has yet to be confirmed, Internet chat rooms are abuzz with tips on where to get a glimpse of him. Speculation has it that he'll be staying at the Portman Ritz Carlton Hotel on Nanjing West Road, and will be treated to dinner at a restaurant specializing in Shanghai cuisine in the tourist area noted for the City God Temple. When he was in Shanghai, former President Bill Clinton was entertained at that same restaurant.  




But what has really excited young people here is a scheduled meeting with Obama. To be sure, most will miss out on this face-to-face talk, but they all look forward to watching live broadcasts of their idol exchanging ideas with their peers and, perhaps, a few jokes.


Obama is idolized by Shanghai's youth because he embodies the personality and character of a leader with whom they can relate to - as opposed to some of the stern-faced Chinese officials they have learned to dread. As Shanghai becomes an increasingly international city, its people, especially those who've been exposed to Western culture, prefer people in authority who share their vision and are willing to talk to them and listen to their aspirations - and complaints.


Internet blogs and chat rooms are now the most popular places for Shanghainese to vent their frustration about dealing with unresponsive officials at banks, phone companies, hospitals, airports, train stations and, yes, the housing estates where they live. This is no exaggeration. I read a story in a Chinese-language newspaper some time ago about a man being beaten up by housing estate security guards because he reportedly refused to park his car as they directed.




Global Times, China: Chinese Netizens Have 'Sharp Words' for President Obama

China Daily, China: VIDEO - Chinese React to Visit of President Obama

Global Times, China: 'Obscene Postcard' Emerges of Taiwan President and Hillary

The Times, U.K. Obama's Bow to Japan Emperor Shows U.S. 'Confidence'

The Telegraph, U.K.: Obama 'Breaks Conciliatory Tone'; Criticizes China Censorship

The Australian, Australia: Obama's Personal Story No Substitute for Policy in Asia

Globe & Mail, Canada: China 'Plays Down' President Obama's Visit


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At the front door of a downtown office building. a Shanghai colleague and I were once ordered by a uniformed guard to get out of a taxi line because we failed to prove we were guests of a tenant there. Seeing no point in arguing with her and not wanting to disturb our host, we walked to the street and got into a taxi making the turn to pick up passengers waiting in the line we just left. We evened the score.



But at times like these, I wonder how people feel about such official arrogance. The Obama factor has made it clear that many people in Shanghai, particularly the younger ones, feel just as indignant as I do about authoritarian excess. Most of the complaints I've heard on radio and read in local newspapers and on the Internet, are directed toward minor officials who deal with the public on a daily basis. But such a level of dissatisfaction reflects badly on the city's bureaucracy as a whole.


President Obama with leaders at the Asia Pacific Economic Summit in

Singapore. From left, Japan Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama, Indonesia

President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono , Singapore's Prime Minister Lee

Hsien loong and China's President Hu Jintao, Nov. 14.



When you go to a hospital after work, as I did recently due to a worsening cold-fever, and are told that all the doctors are off duty- by a nurse who didn't even raise her head to look at me while she spoke - one can understand why Obama's image as an approachable and understanding leader holds so much appeal in this city.



































[Posted by WORLDMEETS.US November 14, 7:19pm]



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