Despite the title, little about this post will focus on Barack Obama (I've already addressed his election here). Rather, it will focus on the world around him, and what we will face starting on January 20, 2009. It will be a world of challenges, to be sure, but also opportunities.
Naturally, there will be much attention dedicated to the economy, but even here, the situation is decidedly more mixed than it would initially appear. The economic troubles have hit Communist China with a far greater force than it has it us so far (BBC, Epoch Times, more from the Epoch Times, and the Washington Post), in no small part because it had many more causes - chief among them the effect of poisoned exports (Epoch Times and AAP via Epoch Times).
While economic troubles are concern enough for any government, for a totalitarian regime like the Chinese Communist Party it is particularly worrisome. In democracies like the United States, voters can take out their frustration on the governing party, if they so choose (and, in fact, they did on Tuesday). The Chinese people have no such luck - indeed, any dissent, political or otherwise, will face the same heavy hand as it did in more prosperous times (Between Heaven and Earth, Boycott 2008, CNN, Epoch Times, Radio Free Asia via Epoch Times).
Of course, when the economy was humming, fewer people felt the need to speak their minds, and Westerners - more used to governments toppling at the ballot box during recessions - blithely told themselves that the CCP would be rewarded for their economic stewardship if they ever tested their mandate with the Chinese people. I certainly don't subscribe to that view, but the important point is this: the Communist regime is entering a period where the democratic world would naturally expect a change - meaning the CCP's ability to hide its tyrannical nature will ring more hollow.
As Senator Obama becomes President Obama, this will pose a huge challenge for him, as the cadres will likely move on two fronts. The first is finding any vehicle to economic growth. At first, those who would be courted by Beijing for this might feel good about their position - as the Taiwanese president certainly does (BBC, Washington Post). However, the cadres will make it clear with anyone that any deals that result from their weakened economic position must still come at their political terms - as the people of Taiwan learned the hard way (Epoch Times and the Washington Post). The president-elect should thus be very wary of offers of better relations coming from Beijing (Washington Times), as should any foreign businessman (Epoch Times).
The regime will likely also step up its anti-American efforts, best revealed via its hackers (Financial Times, UK), its increased military prowess (Wall Street Journal), and its Korean colony (One Free Korea and the Weekly Standard).
Finally, Beijing will try to relieve outside pressure by trying to silence exiled dissidents or other anti-Communists in their own countries. The cadres have had great success in Canada (BH&E, Boycott 2008, Canadian Press) and to a lesser extent Australia (Epoch Times), but now even Britain is getting into the act (Wall Street Journal), much to the consternation of the Tibetan people (BBC).
It won't be easy for President Obama to face the truth and resist Communist China's multi-pronged efforts to avoid the judgment of the Chinese people. However, if he holds firm, he will have the support of his fellow American - all his fellow Americans.
After all, even in the entertainment world, Beijing is still acknowledged as a villain (Epoch Times via Boycott 2008).