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Barack Obama, looking rather tiny, takes over a Chinese website

April 9, 2008 |  1:24 am

Any Westerner who's lived in Asia is not surprised to see people wearing T-shirts with Abraham Lincoln's visage and the English characters spelling "Rinconil's Birthday." Or the "Hello Have a Happy Weather" beauty salon.

So it probably shouldn't be too surprising -- just a little weird -- that a Chinese searchThe image of Illinois Senator and Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama being used on the homepage of the Chinese web search site Baidu along with a dapper donkey engine and online marketing website named Baidu this week chose none other than the American presidential candidate Barack Obama to grace its homepage this week for a while.

He looks a lot smaller in Chinese though, kind of cute, a little grinning cartoon Obama standing next to what's described as "a dapper donkey."

Obama is waving a net or blanket and looks to be about to cover up the Chinese characters for Baidu. Of course.

We heard him say the part about unilateral bombing of parts of our ally Pakistan, but we missed the ceremonial covering of Chinese characters plank in his platform.

According to an explanation, Obama is the sixth personality to grace the Beijing-based Baidu logo since November and the very first foreigner. Others included Hong Kong entertainers and some survivors of a large snowstorm somewhere. Pretty elite company.

But is this an endorsement?

Apparently they're picked according to their....

searched popularity, kind of like Nikki Carlisle videos on Google Trends. Obama was picked because the company investors heard something about him being very successful in collecting online donations, which they wouldn't mind a little of either.

Hey, nobody said it had to make sense to the eyes of American voters.

Now, you're probably wondering what does the word Baidu mean. We really can't put it any better than the company's own website:

"Many people have asked about the meaning of our name. 'Baidu' was inspired by a poem written more than 800 years ago during the Song Dynasty. The poem compares the search for a retreating beauty amid chaotic glamour with the search for one's dream while confronted by life's many obstacles.

"…hundreds and thousands of times, for her I searched in chaos, suddenly, I turned by chance, to where the lights were waning, and there she stood." Baidu, whose literal meaning is hundreds of times, represents persistent search for the ideal."

If your laptop has Chinese characters, you can read all about it here.

So, there you have it. The Democratic presidential primary is not the only sales campaign, it seems, that the Illinois senator is involved in.

--Andrew Malcolm