Many in Russia are equally doubtful of a positive change. The mood on the chilly streets of Moscow is the same as it is most days, with some Russians pleased to hear that Obama will be the next president of the United States, but most ambivalent to the news.
The Russian headlines read "America opens itself" and "America made a historical choice," but for most Russians, America is still regarded with distrust, irrespective of its leader.
Svetlana, a cleaning lady in Moscow, told ABC News, "I can't really say that I am happy or sad that Obama won, we still have so many problems with America."
Still, Russia's Communist Party leader, Gennady Zyuganov, said, "His election is a choice in favor of a younger and more modern America, which is now completely disappointed in George W. Bush's policy resulting in extremely hard times for the country's economy, in which a financial crisis is raging."
President Medvedev offered Obama his congratulations unusually late in the day and was not particularly effusive in his telegram, citing "solid positive potential" between the two countries.
The Chinese president sent an equally official sounding message to Obama. "China and the United States share broad common interests and important responsibilities on a wide range of major issues concerning the well-being of humanity."
Ordinary Chinese reacted to the U.S. election with a combination of curiosity and indifference. In Tiananmen Square in Beijing, which attracks tourists from across China, several people had a vague recollection of the name "Obama" from reading newspapers, but didn't know that he won the presidential election.
But some Chinese who don't normally follow U.S. politics have been observing Obama and believe his race helps him relate to "ordinary" people.
But one place where his election was greeted with almost unbridled joy was the sleepy seaside town in Japan that shares a name with the president-to-be.
The people of Obama came out to the streets and danced in celebration at the news. And, in Tokyo, Obama's words gave one resident hope for a new-world order.
"His speech was heartwarming," said Fusae Asano, a 64-year-old homemaker.
"Through his speech, I get this idea that he wants all of us to unite, it is one world and we are all one. Although he will be the president of a foreign country, his speech made me cry."
For more international reaction to Obama's election tune into Worldview on ABC News Now.
Noriko Namiki, Clarissa Ward, Gabriel O'Rorke, Simon McGregor-Wood, Matthew McGarry, Joohee Cho, Dana Hughes, Margaret Conley and Phoebe Natanson contributed to this report.