Melinda Liu on Xi Jinping and the “China Dream”

From the start, I’ve been optimistic about Xi Jinping and his administration. Melinda Liu of the Daily Beast has just outlined many of the reasons why:

Then, China’s new top graft buster, Wang Qishan, met with a number of anti-corruption experts and interrupted one who addressed him as “dear respected secretary.” “Drop the formalities,” Wang reportedly told the group. The new message from the top: just get to the point. After less than a month into his job, Xi ushered in a new leadership style that’s taken China by surprise. He has exhorted citizens to pursue “national rejuvenation” and a “Great Chinese Dream,” while cracking down on graft, trimming official perks, and streamlining bureaucracy. At least in some key areas, Xi seems poised to break with the past decade of stagnation, during which time China’s economy slowed and political reforms regressed. If the changes take hold, they could have far-reaching implications both at home and abroad. Many Chinese seem heartened, even inspired, by Xi’s down-to-earth style. But many of China’s jittery neighbors worry that Beijing’s dream could become their nightmare, leading to an increasingly nationalistic and aggressive foreign policy.

Reforms will never come fast enough for some people (ahem, Nicholas Kristof wrote about Ai Weiwei the day before Liu’s article), but at least we’re back in a positon to talk about it realistically.

And about that “China Dream”:

In the eyes of the outside world, however, the big question remains: what exactly is this Chinese Dream? The symbolism is potent but vague on details. The phrase evokes China’s past glories, but not any precise period. Rather, says Hu Xingdou, of the Beijing Institute of Technology, China’s renaissance refers to achievements related to innovation and creativity—such as the compass, papermaking, movable type, and gunpowder, which are collectively known as the “four great inventions.”

“The Chinese Dream is different from the American Dream , which focuses on individual success,” says Hu. “We mainly stress national power and dignity.” But he also cautioned, “If a nation cares only about the dignity of the state and not of the individual… it could turn into a horrible country. The Chinese Dream should mean more power to the citizenry.”

Maritime tensions and increased Internet restrictions are two issues that dampen our enthusiasm, but we can save these topics for another time.

While you’re on the Daily Beast website, it may be worth checking out its slideshow, Love on China’s Assembly Lines.

China’s Great Dream (The Daily Beast)

    7 Responses to “Melinda Liu on Xi Jinping and the “China Dream””

    1. MAC

      Xi Jinping might himself be a straight talker, but good luck getting that “style” to trickle down any time soon. I’m guessing that at best they will take to rote repetition of approved earthy phrases.

    2. LAW

      Actions speak louder than words, but the words have been good. 14B to be spent on the Music Valley has been the best indicator for my optimism on the new admin. Thinking creatively starts with education.

      Dont just focus on the formality dropping quote, small part of a larger article.

    3. King Baeksu

      The difference betwen the American Dream and the Chinese Dream is that while the former is an open party, the latter is “members only.”

      If China really wants to inspire and lead the world, they’ll have to do better than that. Given the nature of Han ethnocentrism, however, I seriously doubt they’re up to the task.

    4. Jive madra

      Agree with the guys. For me the litmus test is the internet. As crude as such a barometer may be, I think it’s representative of Xi Jinping. Can he control the monolithic structure that is the system? Time will tell

    5. brackishwater

      I don’t see this as a “crackdown”…it’s more of a hands-off approach.

      Whereas previously, any official corruption would have been censored immediately, now they wait to see how the online chatter plays out, and in most (but not all) cases abandon the official in question if it reaches critical mass (see: Yang Dacai, Yuan Zhanting).

      Of course, if the offender has a plausible connection to Bo Xilai or Chongqing, they can be dropped immediately (see: Lei Zhengfu, Wu Hong).

      It’s important to note that this “crackdown” is yet to be manifest in anything but loosened censorship of exposure of corrupt officials. Sure, this indirectly results in increased public supervision, but the incentives to become corrupt still exist – now, they just have to be smarter about it.

    6. Jonathan Alpart

      If a nation cares only about the dignity of the state and not of the individual… it could turn into a horrible country. The Chinese Dream should mean more power to the citizenry.”

      Conversely, if a citizenry only cares about the individual, i.e. their own damn selves, it could turn into a horrible country. Just look west!


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