US presidential election: Biden becomes the hottest topic on Chinese social media

·3-min read

China’s tightly controlled social media platforms are seldom used for political discussion, but Joe Biden’s victory in the US presidential election has bucked the trend.

As of Sunday afternoon, posts about the president-elect on the Twitter-like microblogging site Weibo had attracted more than 730 million views, while Tencent’s WeChat Moments – similar to Facebook’s Timeline – was equally busy.

“Everyone cares about the US election so much, but I don’t even know who is the mayor of Shanghai,” one Weibo user said.

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Many of the comments on the platform were about the possibility of Donald Trump – who has yet to concede defeat – refusing to leave the White House.

“[Biden was] rushing to falsely pose as the winner … The simple fact is this election is far from over,” the president said in a statement on his campaign website.

Another Weibo user said: “When [Biden] enters the White House next January, he will face a series of unprecedented challenges: how to carry Trump out of the White House.”

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Chinese state media have also hosted Weibo topics, many of them focused on the potential post-election uncertainty in the US.

One hosted by Communist Party mouthpiece People’s Daily and titled “The emotions of US voters are heavily divided” had received more than 81 million views by Sunday afternoon.

Another, hosted by state broadcaster CCTV about Trump supporters protesting with guns had attracted 140 million views.

A CCTV post under the topic showed supporters of the two candidates facing off in Pennsylvania, a swing state that was declared a win for Biden.

“Trump may say: the emperor never abolished the queen, I’m still a queen,” a Weibo user said, in reference to the popular television drama series Empresses in the Palace in which two of the characters compete to be China’s most powerful woman.

In his first speech as president-elect Biden said he would seek to bridge the widening political divide in the United States and stressed the need for unity, strength and faith in the nation.

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Zhang Dingding, an internet industry commentator, said on WeChat about Biden’s win: “This is the democratic ‘troubleshooting’ mechanism. Once you find that the train is on the wrong track, you can change the driver.”

But others urged people to exercise caution before jumping to a decision about the new American leader.

“Many people are ridiculing Trump and praising Biden … but we don’t know Biden’s policies and position on China,” a Weibo user said. “What if after a year we find he is even worse than Trump?”

Mei Xinyu, a researcher at China’s commerce ministry, said on WeChat: “It is a victory for Biden, not a victory for China. From a long-term perspective, it is possible that it even won’t be a victory for the US … Calm down, observe, and think.”

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