Defining the “Chinese Dream”

The “Chinese Dream” has been the primary guiding principle of President Xi Jinping’s new administration so far. Yet despite its ubiquity in official speeches and documents, its exact meaning and significance is not yet entirely clear. Some have compared it, favorably or not, to the “American dream,” which the Chinese leadership both confirmed and denied. From the South China Morning Post:

In a lengthy People’s Daily article, Liu Qibao called for more resources to be directed towards sharing the idea of the Chinese dream in the media.

“We should take a proactive approach to spreading and interpreting the Chinese dream, to help the international community better understand it,” he said.

[…] On a news portal affiliated with People’s Daily, an online commentary said the Chinese dream was “completely different” from and superior to the concept of the “American dream”.

But during Xi’s meeting with the US President in California last month, Xi told Barack Obama that the “Chinese dream is connected to the American dream”. [Source]

In a roundtable discussion on the subject for ChinaFile, Danwei’s Jeremy Goldkorn comments that the “Chinese Dream” is a mere rip-off of the American dream without the substance:

I hope that the notion of the Chinese Dream is a signal that the Party recognizes that China ought not to be merely the world’s biggest factory, largest market, and most significant creator of pollution. I hope it is a recognition of the dignity and the aspirations of ordinary Chinese people.

Unfortunately, I have seen nothing to convince me that the Chinese Dream is anything but a shoddy ripoff of the American Dream, a propaganda campaign imposed from above as an ideological framework to justify continued Party rule, and to find a euphonious way of talking about China’s place in the world. [Source]

An article from the BBC, meanwhile, looks at how the concept of the “Chinese Dream” may resonate differently to people born in urban or rural China:

Known as ‘hukou’, the registration system has epitomised the rural-urban divide in China for decades. Initially instituted to control migration, it still affects the prospects of those born in the 1990s like Rocky and Lena.

Rocky’s circumstances couldn’t be more different. Born with an urban ‘hukou’, his parents were employed in the privileged state-owned sector. He is confident that he will own one of those pricey motorbikes soon.

According to Lena, his family background has helped to give him an easy confidence that she lacks. She also worries about her family and feels pressure to send money to them rather than benefitting from their financial support.

This is probably why Rocky thinks that he will achieve the Chinese Dream while Lena is less sure. [Source]

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