Franck Robichon/European Pressphoto Agency
10:59 a.m. | Updated HONG KONG — Judging by a recent global opinion poll, much of the world outside the United States would have voted to re-elect President Obama if it could have. In the end, the rest of the world got what it wanted. And as concession and acceptance speeches were held, the first of the congratulatory telegrams went out to the winner.
“I extend my congratulations to President Obama on his re-election to office. In winning this historic election, the President has a unique opportunity to realize his vision for the United States,” the Malaysian prime minister, Najib Razak, said in an emailed statement on Wednesday.
“On behalf of the Government and people of Australia, I offer warm congratulations to President Barack Obama on his re-election and wish him every success for his second term in office,” said Julia Gillard, his Australian counterpart.
Less restrained, Daniel Flitton, a senior correspondent at the Sydney Morning Herald, one of Australia’s main daily newspapers, told readers to “breathe a sigh of relief.”
“Had Mitt Romney won the day, it would have made for an ugly time with our big alliance partner,” he wrote.
Ananth Krishnan, China correspondent for the Indian newspaper The Hindu, had this early reaction to President Obama’s victory speech:
What a speech. What a man. Wow. Sigh. After this, covering the Party Congress in Beijing is going to be such an anticlimax.
Even the Internet multimillionaire Kim Dotcom, who is awaiting potential extradition from New Zealand to the United States on copyright charges, had this to say:
Kim Dotcom Congratulations @BarackObama – May the next 4 years be better than the last 4 years.
Earlier in the day, as the polling stations began closing in the United States — around about the time that tens of millions of people were heading to work across the Asia-Pacific region — the mood in the Hong Kong was also predominantly pro-Obama.
“It was so special when he won the last time. There was a lot of hope and I think there still is,” said a woman who was heading to work in Causeway Bay, a bustling neighborhood of Hong Kong that is dominated by shopping malls.“ I think he can do it.”
Continuity with another four years of Barack Obama, rather than a jump into the relative unknown with his challenger, is what many people appeared to prefer.
“I just think it’s not a good time for big change,” said Harris Shim, 32, who works for a bank in this Asian financial hub. “People in Asia are affected by what’s going on over there, and I don’t think many people would know what the effect of a new president would be.”
“I’m all about keeping it simple, so I hope he wins,” echoed Benjamin Sun, 46, who works for the car manufacturer Ferrari and spent many years living in the United States before moving to Hong Kong. “He is doing all right. It could be better, but if he has another four years he might be able to do better.”
Students at Mr. Obama’s former elementary school in an affluent neighborhood of Jakarta, the capital of Indonesia, cheered his win, as did Indonesian elites gathered at a party hosted by the U.S. Embassy. On the streets, motorcycle taxi drivers raised their fists and shouting, “Obama, Obama.”
Obama’s popularity with the ordinary folks outside the United States comes as no surprise.
As our colleague Mark McDonald wrote in this recent blog post, a global opinion poll conducted by the BBC World Service showed that if the rest of the world got to vote Obama would likely be re-elected in a landslide.
Chinese respondents preferred Mr. Obama, 28 percent to 9 percent, as did South Koreans (58 to 9); Japanese (33 to 9); Indians (36 to 12); and Malaysians (28 to 13), the poll found. In Indonesia, where Mr. Obama spent four of his boyhood years, he was favored, 59 percent to 3 percent, over Mr. Romney.
Still, there was also a sense of guarded anticipation on Wednesday, as analysts, commentators and the financial markets took stock of the daunting economic that the administration faces, as well as the foreign policy issues that are closest to Asia’s heart.
In Hong Kong, for example, the South China Morning Post highlighted the divisiveness of the campaign that led up to election day through a cartoon showing a top-hatted Uncle Sam being sawn in half, watched over by the two contenders.
In China, the state-run China Daily reported that that the outcome of the election would not affect the nature of U.S.-Chinese relations. While Mitt Romney raised the specter of China as a threat to US economic prosperity Obama would try to mend the country’s relationship and “initiate greater diplomacy over a range of issues to find common ground,” it quoted a Chinese economics professor at New York University as saying.
The China Media Project at the University of Hong Kong, which monitors the media in China, said the U.S. election had drawn millions of comments on Sina Weibo, the Twitter-like microblogging service, and offered a taste of the comments.
In Cambodia the hope was that Obama would push for free and fair elections in the country when he is scheduled to visit later this month. The heads of Cambodia National Rescue Party Sam Rainsy, who is exile, said it was time for more international involvement in Cambodia’s troubles. “Now the whole world is paying attention to Cambodia, to demand true democracy,” he told Voice of America Khmer.
Meanwhile, the English-language version of Xinhua had a clear reminder that the U.S. elections were not the only thing that matters to the world in which China’s importance has grown.
Xingua’s site was dominated by a slide show of pictures from the U.S. vote. But the site’s main news story on Wednesday morning was this:
Sara Schonhardt contributed reporting from Jakarta.