BEIJING -- China has been a big issue in the American presidential race. Which candidate would the Chinese pick if they could vote at the U.S. polls? At least three surveys indicate that it would be President Obama by a landslide.
Unscientific online polls conducted Tuesday by the Global Times and Sina Weibo, China's Twitter-like service, showed the incumbent trouncing GOP challegner Mitt Romney. Through Tuesday afternoon, the Global Times poll showed 81% of more than 4,500 respondents favoring Obama, while Sina Weibo’s survey drew more than 2,500 responses, 78% of them supporting the president.
A more scientific AFP-Ipsos online poll, conducted in late September, showed 63% of about 800 Chinese respondents wanted Obama to be reelected.
In that survey, 58.3% of respondents said they thought Obama would be the best U.S. president for Asian economic growth, while 56.3% said Obama was better for peace and security in Asia. Romney was most popular with older Chinese and in inland areas and less developed, second-tier cities.
Romney has vowed throughout the campaign that he would label China as a currency manipulator on his first day in the White House. The candidates have repeatedly traded barbs on who would be tougher on China from a trade and jobs perspective.
Although the AFP-Ipsos poll found that only 43% of respondents regarded the U.S. election as "very important" or "somewhat important," there was a significant amount of online chatter about the race Tuesday. The U.S. presidential vote was the fourth-hottest topic on Sina Weibo. (No. 8, it must be noted, was "Will bananas become the main source of sustenance for humans?")
"Everyone in my office almost stopped doing their jobs and started to discuss tonight's U.S. presidential election," wrote one Sina Weibo user named Lt. Eating Chicken Nuggets. "They talked from Reagan to Romney, everyone became a political expert!"
Another commented: "I predict Obama will win tonight and be re-elected. From a global perspective, Obama will treat the world better. This world will not accept another Bush Junior! I believe most Americans would agree with me on that."
But Romney is not without his supporters in China. Li Daokui, director of the Center for China in the World Economy at Tsinghua University who has served as an advisor to China's central bank, said he favored the Republican.
Although Li said there is no difference between the two candidates’ China policies, he predicted Obama would face a lot of resistance on Capitol Hill if reelected.
"If I'm an American, I would vote for the person whose policy would benefit the U.S. economy most. That's why I choose Romney," he wrote on his blog. "Romney looks to be a right-wing leader, but he actually does a lot of things as a left-wing leader. He was very pragmatic when he was the governor of Massachusetts. As a president, it would be easier for him to work with the Congress and push forward some necessary reforms."
-- Julie Makinen
Tommy Yang in the Times Beijing bureau contributed to this report.
Photo: President Obama addresses a large crowd in Iowa on Monday during his final rally of the 2012 campaign. Credit: Steve Pope / EPA