As news of Mitt Romney's loss in the presidential election spread around the world to China, which has been lukewarm toward the China-bashing Republican, some Web users still found something on which to warmly congratulate the defeated candidate.
"With a family like this, so what if you can't be the U.S. president?" journalist Rui Chenggang tweeted to his 5.7 million followers on Weibo, China's Twitter, posting a Romney family photo. Rui, who is very famous in China, is also known for his nationalist leanings, which makes his apparently earnest admiration for Romney's family that much more noteworthy.
Rui details the Romney family's growth from "high-school sweethearts" to "18 lovely grandsons and granddaughters." His Weibo message, which concludes, "I'm sharing this heartwarming photo with you," appears to have resonated: It's been forwarded 70,000 times and drawn 13,000 comments.
A subtext of the message seems to be this: Romney might have suffered a very public defeat, but he still enjoys a life where it is permissible and possible to start a big family. That's a significant contrast to the norm in China, where government policy restricts most families to a single child, and where the rising cost of living is making it more difficult to start a family.
It's a reminder of the still-wide gulf between the U.S. and China – despite the campaign rhetoric playing up China's economic threat – and of the deep admiration for America and American life that's common in China, even if they're not so crazy about our politicians.