There was another winner in the election this weekend that handed President Ma Ying-jeou of Taiwan a second term in office — the faint but unmistakable clamor for democracy in China. Thanks in large part to an uncharacteristically hands-off approach by Chinese Internet censors, the campaign between Mr. Ma and his main challenger was avidly followed by millions of mainland Chinese, who consumed online tidbits of election news and biting commentary that they then spit out far and wide through social media outlets.
As the election played out on Saturday, a palpable giddiness spread through the Twitter-like microblog services that have as many as 250 million members. They marveled at how smoothly the voting went, how graciously the loser, Tsai Ing-wen, conceded and how Mr. Ma gave his victory speech in the rain without the benefit of an underling’s umbrella — in contrast with the pampering that Chinese officials often receive.
“It’s all anyone on Weibo was talking about this weekend,” said Zhang Ming, a political science professor at Renmin University in Beijing, referring to Sina Weibo, China’s most popular microblog service. Users expressed barbed humor about their own unelected leaders — and envy over Taiwan’s prodigious liberties — but also deeply felt pride that their putative compatriots pulled off a seamless election free of the violence that marred previous campaigns in Taiwan, including a 2004 assassination attempt against the president at the time, Chen Shui-bian.
Full Article: Taiwan Vote Stirs Chinese Hopes for Democracy – NYTimes.com.