Barack Obama’s second inauguration has drawn spectators from all over the country to Washington, D.C. On the other side of the world, China’s netizens have taken to social media as Obama’s second term as president begins officially.
On Weibo, an online microblogging site similar to Twitter (which is blocked in the People's Republic), users have expressed general support and positivity as Obama embarks on his second four years as the president of the U.S.
Several users noted the success of this year’s inaugural oath, compared to four years ago, where the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, John Roberts, flubbed the placement of the word “faithfully,” leading to a do-over the following day.
The North America Sina account pointed out Obama’s more aged appearance this time around, remarking that it was a result of the physical toll of the stresses of the past four years.
“Obama entered the White House four years ago looking radiant, with the ‘eyes of God’,” the post said. This time, the post read, his hair has grayed and he “now has crow’s feet and bags under the eyes” -- with an accompanying combined photo to illustrate it.
Other users are expressing their support for the president, noting the significance of his inauguration ceremony on the federal holiday celebrating Martin Luther King Jr.
“On this special day: Martin Luther King, Jr., Barack Hussein Obama, they meet and pass on a particular significance across time and space,” one Weibo user pointed out.
However, the story among the Chinese, is less about Obama and more about the longstanding tradition at the inauguration of the president and vice president taking the oath of office by swearing on a Bible.
One user started a conversation about the traditional swearing-in ceremony, describing what he saw as peculiar: “secular state elected officials [with a] hand on the Bible (not the constitution), [being sworn in] to a Supreme Court judge (rather than Congress).”
The concept of a religiously rooted government is unfamiliar to the Chinese, but some still made comparisons to the nation's stated, unwavering commitment to the Communist Party.
“What is our faith? Communism?” one user responded.
It is not uncommon for China’s Internet population to weigh in on American politics on social media.
Last fall, Obama and Romney faced off in multiple debates, in which Obama took a previously unseen hard stance on China, leaving some Chinese questioning who the ‘real’ Obama was. During the debates, users claimed Obama was taking the same stance as Romney and attacking the Chinese for electoral gain.
This time around, many Chinese believe that Obama is still faced with old challenges that linger from his first term. China’s mainstream state-run media outlets like Xinhua News and People’s Daily reiterate the view that old issues, like the budget crisis, are still challenging the president and are piling up, as new ones, like gun control, arise.