President Xi Jinping’s signature slogan is the “Chinese dream.” Hinting at the American dream of individual success and happiness achieved through hard work, the Chinese dream simultaneously embodies a nationalist, state-centered ideal. The New Yorker’s Evan Osnos has called the Chinese dream “the first Chinese political slogan that makes sense in a long time.”
But that clarity is getting muddled as government bodies adapt the Chinese dream for their own use. On July 7, the China Business Journal posted to Weibo screenshots of articles on Chinese dream educational activities in prisons throughout the country, all based on the theme “the Chinese dream, the dream of prison, my dream.” Even as they laughed, many readers found the weibo a tragic commentary on life in China:
壹读: The Chinese dream, the dream of prison. “One wakes suddenly from one’s dream to find oneself confined to a cage.”
小寒一直在路上: There aren’t many left who tell the truth these days!
隆裕太后: Prisons are dreaming the Chinese dream.
陈龙棋: Doesn’t having a slaughterhouse equal slaughtering dreams?
马克能: Funeral homes will be holding a series of “Chinese dream, the dream of cremation, my dream” events.
天天向上的三好哥哥: Here comes another laughingstock. It’s just like back in the day when Chongqing launched its red song campaign. Monks, nuns, psychiatric patients, and prison inmates all opened their mouths and sang, “We are the successors of socialism…” It’s all a mockery. Inmates dream of early release. Will their dreams ever come true?
张华1226: The sanitation department will be holding a “Chinese dream, rubbish dream” essay contest.
环卫所将举办“中国梦 垃圾梦 我的梦”征文比赛。
刘和说: China = prison? So this is the truth! Prison comrades, you have been under the tender loving care of the Party and the people!
被愚者: Actually, we are all in prison. This statement, ever so pragmatic, is the most conscientious official pronouncement. The Chinese dream, the dream of prison.
思行郎: Will there be a dream of accidents, dream of hospitals, dream of the ICU, dream of the funeral, and dream of the graveyard?
这个队长有点2: Anything, no matter how absurd, seems normal in the Celestial Empire.
柳絮2009: Isn’t this deliberately discrediting the Chinese dream?
钢铁蝙蝠蜘蛛侠: I have tried to comprehend it for almost a year before I finally saw the authoritative interpretation of the Chinese dream.
Xenophon: Many Chinese people have similar dreams: to scale the wall, to jailbreak.