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Chinese Want Stronger Ties With US Under Obama Administration


People in China, as in other parts of the world, are waiting to see how U.S. President-elect Barack Obama will deal with global problems such as the current economic slowdown once he takes office. As Sam Beattie reports from Beijing, there is widespread hope for closer U.S.-Chinese cooperation.

For many students in Beijing, Mr. Obama symbolizes all that is possible in the United States. He's a popular winner here, seen as a self-made man who has made it to the top.

"I think he is very charming, and a president who can create a new era," said Zhang Wei, a university student. "I like him very much and most of my friends do too."

Ni Weibo, another university student, agrees. "Sino-U.S. relations still need more cooperation," she said. "I think he will help take it to a new era."

China's President Hu Jintao congratulated Mr. Obama within hours of his victory, saying he hoped bilateral ties could be made stronger.

Political analysts here say China will be looking for the incoming president to avoid contentious issues such as Taiwan's independence, human rights and Tibet.

Instead, they say Beijing would like Mr. Obama to focus on solving the global economic crisis, and to help China's slowing economy by opening up U.S. markets.

But trade relations might be a sticking point, says Renmin University's Professor of International Studies, Shi Yinhong.

He warns, "There is a possibility that President Obama will take some protectionist measures which China will not accept, then trade disputes could develop to a degree that we have not seen ever before."

Despite making the headlines, Mr. Obama faces some tough challenges in managing the U.S. relationship with China.

China is now a stronger and more confident country than the China his predecessors dealt with. And in this time of economic uncertainty, analysts say it's a country with which Mr. Obama will want to maintain a good relationship.

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