Election envy: Obama's victory as seen from the Chinese Internet

The sigh of relief from China was almost audible. Now Chinese officials "don't need to deal with unnecessary disputes over issues like currency and trade while dealing with its own political transition," said Vincent Ni, a correspondent for the Chinese business magazine Caixin, who's been covering the U.S. election. The state-run Chinese news agency Xinhua reported optimistically that "Obama has a unique opportunity to make an even more far-reaching impact on China-U.S. ties, if he has the political courage and wisdom to cast away the uncalled-for worries over China's rise."

The Chinese reaction hasn't been all positive. Woeser, a prominent half-Tibetan half-Chinese dissident blogger, wrote on Twitter (blocked but accessible in China) last night that although she hadn't supported Romney, she was disappointed with Obama's victory. I asked why, and she pointed to an essay she had written in response to his 2009 trip to Beijing, where although she was happy that Obama had mentioned the importance of basic human rights to "the head of the world's largest totalitarian system," he didn't come out and explain what those rights were. Writing for FP in mid-October, director of the Center for American Studies at Fudan University Shen Dingli said that Sino-U.S. relations tend to be better under Republican presidents. "The logic is simple: no delusion from the outset, fewer human rights distractions, frank talk, and concrete cooperation whenever possible," he wrote.

But the overwhelming response for Chinese netizens seems to be a sense of triumph, even vicarious glee at Americans' ability to choose.

This being the Chinese internet, things got a little weird. "It's same reason porn films are popular," the Wall Street Journal quoted a Chinese internet user as saying. "You want to do it but you can't so you content yourself with watching others." The British condom manufacturer Durex wrote a post on its Sina Weibo account that seemed to capture the spirit of Chinese views-and indeed, was forwarded an astonishing 43,000 times. It features the photo of an enthusiastic Michelle Obama with her hands out wide, above a photo of a tense Ann Romney holding up her thumb and her index finger.  The caption reads: "The difference between Obama and Romney."

Ed Jones/AFP/Getty Images


First Romney, next Bibi?

It would be hard -- perhaps impossible -- to find someone who believes Benjamin Netanyahu is happy with the re-election of Barack Obama. Not only did the Israeli premier publicly butt heads with Obama over settlement expansion in the West Bank and the White House's Iran policy, he has a three decade-long friendship with Mitt Romney and warmly embraced the GOP challenger when he made a campaign swing through Jerusalem this summer.

But with Romney defeated, Bibi's rivals are hoping that his public spat with the U.S. president does him in.  As the Kadima Party, the largest in Israel's Knesset, wrote on its Facebook page: "Netanyahu bet on the wrong president and got us into hot water with Obama."

Others are even more biting - witness the graphic to the left, a reference to the Israeli general elections scheduled for Jan. 22. (Hat tip: Michael Collins Dunn).

The U.S. and Israeli governments themselves, however, have done everything possible to play down the possibility of a public rift. Netanyahu tweeted a picture of the two leaders smiling happily together in the Oval Office, while Israeli spokesman Ofir Gendelman wrote that "the strategic alliance between Israel and the US is stronger than ever." U.S. Ambassador to Israel Dan Shapiro, meanwhile, said that Obama doesn't hold a grudge -- "the president is a strategic thinker; his policies are not governed by emotion," he assured Israelis.