US elections: Chinese glued to nail-biting race on Weibo

A magazine cover with US presidential candidate Hillary Clinton is displayed at a newsstand in Shanghai on Nov 8, 2016. PHOTO: AFP

The world's most populous nation is glued to the nail-biting US presidential race, going by social media statistics on Wednesday (Nov 9).

Posts with the hashtag mei guo da xuan or #USelection have amassed more than one billion views on Sina Weibo, China's version of Twitter, as of Wednesday afternoon.

The US election was the No. 1 search topic on the platform throughout the day, ahead of such interests as "auto-shutdown of iPhone6s", and Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk, the latest Hollywood movie by Taiwanese director Lee Ang, and clicks explodes after it became apparent that Mr Trump was heading for a shock win.

"In a dramatic election filled with 'black material', the United States' future seems to be getting increasingly uncertain," state broadcaster China Central Television (CCTV) says in a tweet that had been retweeted more than 500 times and liked more than 800 times as of 10:30am.

The communist country of 1.35 billion has been watching the most bad-tempered US polls in recent history with much interest, with more of them favouring Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton over Republican Donald Trump, according to a study released last month by the US-based Pew Research Centre.

A roughly equal share of respondents held positive (37 per cent) and negative (35 per cent) views of Mrs Clinton. She is better known and better liked in China than she was when she last ran for president in 2008, the survey showed.

Meanwhile, 40 per cent of Chinese respondents viewed Mr Trump unfavourably, and only 22 per cent liked him.

Chinese state media outlets devoted front-page headlines to news and commentaries on the race in the run-up to Election Day. A commentary published by Global Times, a nationalist daily, late on Tuesday opined that "it would make it easier for China to cope" if Trump is elected.

"This is because under the policy line advocated by Obama and Clinton, the political and military frictions between China and the US will be more frequent," says the commentary.

Xinhua quoted Professor Peter Li at the University of Houston as saying that whoever succeeds Mr Barack Obama as US President will have to establish a "positive relationship" with China as "a good US-China relationship is a bipartisan consensus in the nation".

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