Election '08: The View from China

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The American election has also proven quite fascinating for one group of visiting international journalists: students from China.

A Unique Perspective

Like most political reporters, one group of journalism students have been working overtime this election season.

They've covered both conventions, visited key battleground states, traveled to Wall Street, and even met with several members of Congress.

But these students from China's Shantou University have a unique perspective. They are part of a political election for the first time.

Shantou University student Zhang Yan has enjoyed the energy of the process, especially at the conventions.

"I was really inspired, and got fired up by the people surrounding me. Though I'm not a citizen of this country, I can feel their passion," Yan said.

Frank Folwell, a former USA Today editor and advisor to the program, says the students have been amazed by the access they've had to prominent politicians.

"At a Biden Rally in Virginia, a couple of the students got very close to Biden and talked to him, This is another world and - for them - that's fascinating," Fowell said.

They've also been impressed by the way ordinary Americans have been involved in the political process.

"There are a lot of people involved, common people, high class people, middle class people; they are all involved in these elections. It makes these elections more colorful," student Zheng Jialing said.

According to one poll, more than a third of Chinese citizens are paying close attention to the U.S. elections, and their impact on China and the world.

"Chinese people really care about who will be the next President," student Hua Qi said. "They really care about what's happening in the U.S."

Dreams of Democracy

They're also hopeful that one day in the future, Chinese citizens will also be able to take part in their own democratic election.

"I would say it's a long way to go, but I would say China is making progress," Jialin said. "Maybe people in the future, they can participate in politics more."

University student Gao Wenhuan said, "One thing I've really learned from here, this is our government, we can elect our own government, they should be responsible for us. We don't need to listen to them, they should listen to us.

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