Asia greets Obama victory with jubilation, hope (Lead)

November 5th, 2008 - 5:59 pm ICT by IANS  

Barack ObamaTokyo, Nov 5 (DPA) American expats and other supporters of Barack Obama cheered and danced in the streets of Asian and Pacific countries early Wednesday as word spread of their candidate’s stunning presidential election victory.People in the small north-central Japanese town of Obama danced through the night and into Wednesday morning in anticipation of the community’s namesake being elected US president.

The local dancing group the Obama Boys practiced their hula dancing, in a nod to the president-elect’s childhood home in the Hawaiian Islands.

Their stage was set up at the town hall, where more than 200 people gathered in the city of 32,000 for an all-day party with six television screens set up for live reports of the election returns.

“I think it’s very exciting,” said John Forbes, a senior official of the American Chamber of Commerce in the Philippines. “He’s young, he’s energetic, he seeks advice and listens before he decides. I’m very optimistic.”

Hundreds of expatriate US Democrats in Hong Kong cheered wildly as Obama’s victory was confirmed shortly after midday local time in the former British colony.

At a party attended by both Republicans and Democrats, Andy Green of Democrats Abroad said: “We are making history and it is so exciting that we are able to be part of it here in Hong Kong.”

Republicans and Democrats watched results roll out on a giant television screen at an event called Election Central at a city-centre conference centre which drew hundreds of followers of both main parties from the city’s 40,000-strong US community.

Asian leaders scrambled to offer their congratulations to the president-elect, hoping for a positive role for the US in the region.

In Beijing, Chinese President Hu Jintao congratulated Obama and promised to expand dialogue and cooperation with his incoming administration.

“The Chinese government and myself consistently attach great importance to China-US relations,” the Foreign Ministry quoted Hu as saying in a telegram to Senator Obama.

“In this new historical period, I expect to work together with you to strengthen dialogue and exchanges between our two nations to enhance mutual trust and cooperation and to bring the China-US constructive cooperative relationship to a new level,” Hu said.

Afghan President Hamid Karzai said he hoped Obama’s victory would bring peace for war-weary Afghans and urged the president-elect to reduce civilian casualties in Afghanistan after being sworn in.

“Today the people of United States of America by the election that they conducted and by electing Senator Barack Obama to the presidency of the United States have taken themselves, the American people and the rest of the world with them into a new era,” Karzai said.

South Korean President Lee Myung Bak congratulated Senator Barack Obama in a telegram while expressing the wish for stronger bilateral ties.

“The South Korean government is strongly convinced that Obama’s election win would elevate the future-oriented alliance between South Korea and the US to a higher level,” said the telegram.

New Zealand Prime Minister Helen Clark also congratulated Obama, saying he would be taking office at a critical juncture.

“There are many pressing challenges facing the international community, including the global financial crisis and global warming,” she said.

New Zealand’s Green Party hailed Obama’s victory as “a rejection of old right-wing politics.”

“We weren’t expecting the size of this victory,” said US expatriate Jesse Dart at a gathering in Sydney, Australia. “It was pretty much all over before we got to the West Coast.”

Organizers of Australia’s biggest election bash - the event drew almost three times more people than they expected - had good reason to register no surprise when Democrats seemed to outnumber Republicans 10-to-1.

Malaysians who tuned into international news channels Wednesday morning hailed the election of Obama as US president as “exciting” and “monumental.”

“Obama represents hope and change and not just in terms of the nitty gritty running of the government but in the eyes of the world,” said Francyne Harrigan, a British citizen who lived in the United States with her American husband for seven years.

“This is monumental, for many in the US and around the world,” said Harrigan.

Chris Ng, a Malaysian investment banker with a regional financial institution, said Obama captured the imagination of a younger generation.

“This man is charismatic - somebody from our generation who understands the world from our perspective, so there is a sense that genuine change is possible,” Ng said.

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