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Xi Jinping - China Dream

The new president and commander-in-chief Xi Jinping's signature slogan is "China Dream" or "great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation". The 2013 Defence White Paper released by China said that the military`s role was to "safeguard the realisation of the 'Chinese Dream'." The year 2013 witnessed the early stages of China’s abandonment of its long-held "Peaceful Rise" foreign policy, as Chinese President Xi Jinping, one year into the job, turned his attention to the "great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation" outside the country’s current borders.

For long Taiwan, Tibet and Xinjiang were China's "core interests” in defence of which it is ready to go to war. Hence its acute concern over the India-China border and its unrelenting effort to restrain the Dalai Lama`s influence. In 2009, China`s then state councillor Dai Bingguo elaborated on the notion of core interest: maintenance of the Communist Party-led system; protection of state sovereignty and territorial integrity; and development of the economy and society. The following year, Chinese officials expanded the core interests to include China's sovereignty over the South China Sea islands and reefs covering 3.5 million square km of water. In 2011, China proclaimed that the Japan-occupied Senkaku islands too were part of its core interests.

In November 2012, President Xi introduced the ‘‘China Dream’’ concept, which envisions the ‘‘great renewal of the Chinese nation’’ and the advancement of an international system in which China’s successful rise provides an attractive alternate political model to Western ones. Achieving the dream means building a ‘‘moderately prosperous society’’ by 2021 and a ‘‘modern socialist society that is strong, democratic, cultured, and harmonious’’ by 2049. Although President Xi has emphasized that ‘‘peaceful development’’ and a stable regional environment are essential to create the conditions for this vision, he linked its fulfillment to a strong military in a December 2012 speech while aboard a PLA Navy destroyer.

The annual session of China's National People's Congress (NPC) concluded 17 March 2013 with a promise of a "Chinese Dream" [Zhongguo Meng] for the country's 1.3 billion people. The catchword drew global attention because it is of great significance to the whole world. The "Chinese Dream," put forth by Chinese President Xi Jinping, was to build a moderately prosperous society and realize national rejuvenation by sustaining growth through deepening reforms and transforming growth pattern. It is a dream of national strength and prosperity, and happiness of the people.

President Xi reiterated China's policy of peaceful development and underlined opportunities that the world might get from China's rise. In his first public speech as Chinese president, Xi Jinping said that Chinese people should enhance the confidence in socialism with Chinese characteristics and make persistent efforts to realize the "Chinese dream." The Chinese dream of great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation "is a dream of the whole nation, as well as of every individual," he said, adding that all Chinese deserve common opportunities of enjoying a wonderful life. To realize the dream, China must take the Chinese way, or the way of socialism with Chinese characteristics, said Xi. In his speech, Xi called for fostering the "Chinese spirit," which features patriotism, and uniting the people as a form of "Chinese strength."

"We must make persistent efforts, press ahead with indomitable will, continue to push forward the great cause of socialism with Chinese characteristics, and strive to achieve the Chinese dream of great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation," he said. "To realise the Chinese road, we must spread the Chinese spirit, which combines the spirit of the nation with patriotism as the core and the spirit of the time with reform and innovation as the core," he went on.

In June 2013, official PLA media explained, ‘‘To the armed forces, the China dream is the strong-army dream, the China dream leads the strong-army dream, and the strong-army dream supports the China dream.’’ According to Daniel Hartnett, research scientist at the CNA Center for Naval Analyses, the PLA’s role in the China Dream is a significant and ‘‘potentially worrisome development.’’ Mr. Hartnett explained: "[The policy] reflects Xi’s attempt to exert his control over the military and establish a break between himself and his predecessors. It also provides further justification for resources for PLA modernization in any internal ‘guns versus butter’ debate among China’s leadership . . . It may also signify a harder turn in China’s military policy under Xi. If the PLA is being required to improve its combat capabilities in response to changes in China’s security environment, it could indicate that the Chinese leadership increasingly feels that it may have to resort to force to counter what it sees as growing national security concerns."

Many Western commentators translate Zhongguo Meng as "Chinese Dream," thereby patronizing China's socio-cultural originality and marketing it as a franchise of the "American Dream." The difference between what Western media thinks China dreams and what China actually says is of great significance for the future global language. Many Chinese people may pay lip service to oneness (tian ren he yi) and great harmony (da tong), as they work hard, study vigorously and try to climb out of poverty. (A common joke goes that the "Beijing Dream" is about clean air and water.)

Few people in China actually said "dream." That's because they speak Chinese in China. Zhongguo Meng is about achieving the rejuvenation of the Chinese nation back to its former pomp, an element that is strikingly missing in the "American dream." Meng [one character means first month, first in series, eminent, elder brother, great, not dream, while another character means bold and powerful, while a third means alliance] is what the Chinese dream, and let us not forget that China has memories of dynasties and emperors, of rujia, fojiao, and daojiao (Confucianism, Buddhism, and Taoism), and that she is a spiritual wenming, a category beyond the narrow European definitions of nation, state, culture, and civilization.

Liu Mingfu, a retired Chinese colonel, published a book called the China Dream: Great Power Thinking and Strategic Posture in the Post-America Era in 2010. The author believes that China's new leader shares his dream - which is to make China the world's dominant power. "Since the 19th Century, China has been lagging on the world stage," he said. "President Xi's dream is of a stronger nation with a strong military."

Guo Fenghai, professor of Marxism studies at the PLA National Defense University, wrote in China Daily on 05 March 2013 that "the great renewal of the Chinese nation doesn't mean China seeking hegemony. Harmony and a respect for diversity are deeply rooted in traditional Chinese ideology. In international affairs, China will continue to oppose hegemonism and power politics, and promote global peace and stability."

Ding Yuanzhu, deputy head of the Policy Advisory Department at the Chinese Academy of Governance, wrote in China Daily on 05 March 2013 that "The term: "China Dream" reminds me of the "American Dream", and the famous "I Have a Dream", speech delivered by Martin Luther King. But the China Dream has a specific meaning, compared with the other two. It includes the renewal of the Chinese nation and the aspirations of the Chinese people for a good standard of living. Great renewal can't be achieved without accomplishing the people's dream, and the people's dream can't come true without a stronger nation."

In July 2013 an article in People's Daily said that "to some extent, under certain conditions, the "Pacific Dream" does not conflict with the "China Dream" in "general" expectations. The US Secretary of State John Kerry outlined a vision for a "Pacific Dream" to highlight the Obama administration's "pivot" to Asia.

President Xi Jinping published a signed article titled "Be Good Partners for Common Development" on Saudi newspaper Alriyadh on 18 January 2016 ahead of his state visit to the country. "The Chinese people are making tireless efforts to realize the two "centenary goals", namely, to finish the building of a country of initial prosperity in all respects when the Communist Party of China celebrates its centenary in 2021 and turn China into a modern socialist country that is prosperous, strong, democratic, culturally advanced and harmonious when the People's Republic celebrates its centenary in 2049. We are also endeavoring to achieve the Chinese dream of great national renewal."

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Page last modified: 18-01-2016 18:37:24 ZULU