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eyes on the U.S.

China Reacts To Obama's Victory, Preps For Own Power Handoff



BEIJING - Barack Obama's hard-fought reelection coincides with the once-in-a-decade handover of power in China, as the Communist Party Congress opens this week in the capital.

But all this superpower politics has produced comparably little mainstream Chinese coverage -- either of Tuesday's noisy conclusion of the U.S. campaign or the much quieter opening of the political watershed event.

The Xinhua news agency did offer the insidery basics of Obama's road to a second term: a road-tested and star studded campaign crew, including the energetic support of former commander-in-chief Bill Clinton; a bump in support for his skillful handling of Hurricane Sandy; and a strategy of focusing on early voting that they dubbed the "Michelle Plan."

But meanwhile, the People's Daily, the organ of the Communist Party, did take a nice swipe at the States on Wednesday, predicting failure of Obama's vows to usher in new policies: "America's Problem: Money Politics Seldom Supports Reforms"

A law professor and Chinese blogger Li Kaisheng noted the Chinese public's general support for Obama was based on the fact that Mitt Romney was seen as posing a much tougher posture towards China and characterized Beijing as a "currency manipulator." Nevertheless, Li believes Obama is increasingly focused on challenging China's influence in Asia.

BBC's Chinese-language website reported that Hu Xijin, the editor-in-chief of the "Global Times" (a populist Beijing daily) expressed his "blessing" for the President's next term. "I hope that Obama has the vision and ingenuity on the issue of China. It should encourage the peaceful rise of China so that we can get rid of the tragedy of Great Power Politics and the world will be peaceful forever."

La Stampa noted that the U.S. vote was the top subject on Sina Weibo, the top Chinese version of twitter, with some 25-million microblog postings.

But to the authorities in Beijing, the far touchier topic is the 18th Communist Party Congress. And the coinciding of the U.S. elections is a reminder that China's own leaders are not elected by the people. All that counts is who is more pro-China.

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How Brazil's Evangelical Surge Threatens Survival Of Native Afro-Brazilian Faith

Followers of the Afro-Brazilian Umbanda religion in four traditional communities in the country’s northeast are resisting pressure to convert to evangelical Christianity.

image of Abel José, an Umbanda priest

Abel José, an Umbanda priest

Agencia Publica
Géssica Amorim

Among a host of images of saints and Afro-Brazilian divinities known as orixás, Abel José, 42, an Umbanda priest, lights some candles, picks up his protective beads and adjusts the straw hat that sits atop his head. He is preparing to treat four people from neighboring villages who have come to his house in search of spiritual help and treatment for health ailments.

The meeting takes place discreetly, in a small room that has been built in the back of the garage of his house. Abel lives in the quilombo of Sítio Bredos, home to 135 families. The community, located in the municipality of Betânia of Brazil’s northeastern state of Pernambuco, is one of the municipality’s four remaining communities that have been certified as quilombos, the word used to refer to communities formed in the colonial era by enslaved Africans and/or their descendents.

In these villages there are almost no residents who still follow traditional Afro-Brazilian religions. Abel, Seu Joaquim Firmo and Dona Maura Maria da Silva are the sole remaining followers of Umbanda in the communities in which they live. A wave of evangelical missionary activity has taken hold of Betânia’s quilombos ever since the first evangelical church belonging to the Assembleia de Deus group was built in the quilombo of Bredos around 20 years ago. Since then, other evangelical, pentecostal, and neo-pentecostal churches and congregations have established themselves in the area. Today there are now nine temples spread among the four communities, home to roughly 900 families.

The temples belong to the Assembleia de Deus, the Seventh-day Adventist Church, and the World Church of God's Power, the latter of which has over 6,000 temples spread across Brazil and was founded by the apostle and televangelist Valdemiro Santiago, who became infamous during the pandemic for trying to sell beans that he had blessed as a Covid-19 cure. Assembleia de Deus alone, who are the largest pentecostal denomination in the world, have built five churches in Betânia’s quilombos.

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