Early in 2008, 27-year-old Chinese publisher Han Manchun read "The Audacity of Hope" by then-United States Senator Barack Obama. At the moment, Obama was a candidate in the presidential primary and it was not at all clear that he could beat Hillary Clinton.
But Han, according to the Agence France-Presse, was so "impressed by what he read that he was certain Obama would win, and that this presented an opportunity in China." So Han, who works for a state-owned publishing house that specializes in legal and constitutional issues, bought the Chinese rights to the book.
The first 30,000 copies sold out almost immediately. The publishing house has since reprinted the book several times and a total of 100,000 copies have now been sold. (That's in addition to the pirated versions on the streets.)
"A lot of Chinese people have an American dream," Han told the AFP. "Obama grew up in a family of common people, and the Chinese want to understand how an ordinary citizen battled to become president of the United States."
But Han, who says he "completely" subscribes to Obama's views on the constitution and the separation of powers in the US, hopes to gain readers among the Chinese government as well.
"I think that leaders above district-level [a Chinese administrative level] must read it," he told AFP. Insight into Obama's thoughts could only help them in their own jobs, says Han.