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The Chinese Dream – an Exhortation to Achieve

The Chinese Dream – an Exhortation to Achieve

No. 2, Nov.-Dec. 2016 » DiploMATTERS

Adapted excerpt from Chapter V – “State policy”, of the upcoming book “The State in the 21st Century – The Chinese Model”, authored by Daniel Tomozei-Dimian, Corint Publishing House, Bucharest 2016

The “Chinese Dream” views personal and national development as intertwined.

35% of Chinese think that the USA is an ideal country, while 26% claim that China is the ideal country. Ten years from now, however, 42% of Chinese will claim that their country is the ideal one, while only 14% will say the same about the US. The figures come from a comparative analysis published in 2014 by the British advertising and communication group WPP, titled “The Power and Potential of the Chinese Dream” [1]. They drew parallels between the Chinese, American and British “dreams”. The latter two are older and emphasize personal development and fulfillment, while the “Chinese Dream” views personal and national development as intertwined.

Daily concerns

“Given the cool relations between Washington and Beijing, at present, it is probably hard to guess that many Chinese see in the United States of America the ideal country in the world, rather than China”, wrote the Financial Times. This while 52% of those questioned for the WPP study in the US and 30% of those in Britain indicated their own nation as the “ideal state”. On the other hand, alongside the US and Great Britain, the Chinese also include Australia, France, New Zealand, Germany and Canada among the “ideal nations”.

To understand what the ideal state means to the Chinese as related to their worries and worldviews, the report mentioned that the Chinese are especially concerned with pollution (85%), health concerns related to food (83%), health insurance (78%), education(76%) and pressures stemming from the rapid pace of change in their lives (66%).

Despite this, people in the US and UK have their own preoccupations. 70% of Americans and 62% of Britons are preoccupied with National Security and 67% and 59%, respectively, are concerned with the national economy, as opposed to 47% of the Chinese. Likewise, the report shows that 70% of the Chinese think that the “Chinese Dream” must be achieved on one’s own, a proportion that rises to 76% among the young Chinese, far above the United States (65%) and Great Britain (39%).

70% of the Chinese think that the “Chinese Dream” must be achieved on one’s own, a proportion that rises to 76% among the young Chinese, far above the United States (65%) and Great Britain (39%).

The Daily Telegraph remarked that, over the last few years, WPP has performed research into Chinese brands for the purpose of identifying opportunities for cooperation into their introduction in Western markets. Su Ming, CEO of WPP, claims that Western countries, including Great Britain, underestimate the economic potential of China as a consumer market, with its 1.3 billion people. At the same time, the “Chinese Dream” is not confined to the interior of China and the development of the Chinese people, but also involves the outside world and the creation of shared benefits. Like the immigrants that pursued the “American Dream” or the “British Dream”, whose realization also spurred the development of the two countries, so too must China be led by a dream of human development, culminating in a better world.

The Chinese Dream

Xi Jinping, on the 12th of November 2012, during the ceremony where he assumed the position of Secretary General of the Communist Party of China and President of the People’s Republic of China, said the following:
“We are well aware that the capability of one individual is limited. But when we are united as one, we will create an awesome power and we can certainly overcome all difficulties. Our responsibility is weightier than Mount Tai [2], and our road ahead is a long one.”
It is essential for the understanding of the project of the “Chinese Dream”, which was initiated during the term of President Xi Jinping, to expand the area of interest and the purview of public communication mechanisms. A linchpin for the “Chinese Dream” is the theory of the “Four general issues”, as a continuation of the “Three great achievements” which saw the Chinese people “embarked on the path of socialism with Chinese characteristics, formed a system of theories of socialism with Chinese characteristics and established a socialist system with Chinese characteristics”, as enunciated by Secretary General of the CPC Hu Jintao in 2011. The CPC officials launched a new political theory, the “Four general issues”, to guide future development, predicated on
  1. Building a moderately prosperous society;
  2. Deepening reforms;
  3. Promoting rule of law;
  4. Strict regulation of the Party.

When it launched in March 2015, the theory’s four aspects constituted strategic objectives for the consolidation and modernization of China, with the capacity of being integrated into the “Chinese Dream” project, which affirms both the individual Chinese aspirations, as well as the aspirations of the Chinese people as a whole.

An arduous road

To achieve the “Chinese Dream”, the leadership in Beijing support the assumption of a path specific to China, that of building socialism with Chinese characteristics, a continuation of the great efforts towards reform and openness of the past 30 years, of the successive processes of the past 60 years, of the 170 years of modern history of China and keeping in mind over 5000 years of Chinese civilization [3]. President Xi Jinping said that, in order to achieve the “Chinese Dream”, the Chinese National Spirit must also be fostered, based on patriotism, the spirit of the time’s reforms and innovation, the unifier between people and their energies and the source of power and rejuvenation for the country. Patriotism, reformation and initiative are the source of internal strength that drives openness and reform [4].

As a promoter of the new National project, President Xi Jinping claimed that members of every ethnic group in China must concentrate their efforts to transform the wisdom and strength of 1.3 billion people into an invincible force, because the “Chinese Dream” belongs to every man. This is why the nation must assume the responsibility of realizing the dream and ensuring that its benefits are distributed fairly.

The processes and transformations which the Chinese are experiencing with ever greater speed are still subject to cultural and temporal specificities, with the present tied to the past and to local models and traditions in a way one finds it hard to imagine could ever be replaced.

The processes for social, economic and political transformation for the “Chinese Dream” involve a rejuvenation and renewal of the Chinese nation, with milestones defined for the year 2021, when the CPC marks its first centennial anniversary, and the year 2049, when the People’s Republic of China celebrates 100 years of existence. We are in the year 2016 and it is difficult for us to fathom that countries and peoples can, in the 21st century, plan ahead for decades, with directions, targets and dimensions of actions already specified.

Strictly regarding China, such actions are a part of what they conceive as normal – the processes and transformations which they are experiencing with ever greater speed are still subject to cultural and temporal specificities, with the present tied to the past and to local models and traditions in a way one finds it hard to imagine could ever be replaced. With this foundation, “people make history and work makes the future”, “happiness does not fall from the sky, just like no dream automatically becomes reality”, claimed President Xi Jinping while promoting the “Chinese Dream”, highlighting the necessity of “getting close to people, acting permanently in their interest, working with dedication, honesty and creativity”, because “empty words afflict the country, while hard work makes it flourish” [5].

As already underlined, the “Chinese Dream” is a project and a road opened by the CPC, the leader of the socialist system in China, with its economic and political dimensions. The Party has, since its founding in 1921, relied on the working class. This is a still current reliance and preoccupation, with the political leadership declaring the working class as “our main force”, which is also the “ruling class” in China, on which the CPC depends completely. These affirmations are “not just slogans or labels”. While extreme poverty is no longer to be found in the great cities of China, the lessons and internal political messages of the CPC are tethered to the initial structure of the Communist doctrine which first attracted the masses of peasants and workers. In March 1949, when the PRC was founded, Mao Zedong exhorted Party Members to be firm, modest and prudent in their work, to stay vigilant against vanity and impetuousness, while pairing hard work with simple living. President Xi Jinping picked up on that message today, and asked the 87 million members of the CPC to work hard and help people with all their heart, to ensure that “China’s red color will never change”.

The “Chinese Dream” relies on a consistent engagement of the working class in the process of building socialism with Chinese characteristics, a system in which workers assume the “historic mission and responsibility” to do their work well and to maintain the national interest always among their concerns [6]. To facilitate this, the leadership supports the necessity of respecting work and ensuring happiness for all workers, for as long as work shall be the source of wealth and happiness. “There is nothing that cannot be achieved through sustained labor”, said the President of China, work being “the most honorable, sublime, magnificent and beautiful” activity [7]. The promotion of model workers occupies an important role in the processes building up to the “Chinese Dream”, “the power of good example being enormous”. Moreover, to achieve their targets, the Chinese must evolve “not just materially, but also culturally and ethically” [8].

Engaging the world

Alongside internal projects, the “Chinese Dream” also specifies an international trajectory for promoting peace and open and inclusive development strategies, aimed at “win-win” cooperation. Through this, China will concentrate its efforts at development and its responsibilities and contributions towards benefitting the whole world. President Xi Jinping [9] claimed:

“We bring benefits not only to the Chinese people, but to the people of the whole world. The realization of the Chinese Dream will bring peace, not turmoil, opportunities, not threat”.

The Chinese model beyond the Dream

Those who have experienced life in China arrive at a number of conclusions regarding quotidian life, one of these being the absence of parties and politicians form the public sphere. One is tempted to assume that the politicians are more or less invisible, with a public presence amounting to an administrative role that guides both attitudes and behaviors. This is why the behavior of flaunting one’s position and behaving ignobly are harshly punished, especially when the one responsible is also a member of the CPC. A role in the political hierarchy attracts a triple sanction – aside from public opprobrium, the sanction of law is preceded by those of the Party judgements.

Far beyond this author to advocate for the absolutism practiced by the CPC! Firstly, it needs no advocates and, secondly, its uniqueness makes it an object pf interesting and profound analysis. It is a bridge between “two worlds”, as the only Communist Party to survive the events of 1989 in the Eurasian space intact. Moreover, under its leadership, the PRC has managed a rebirth that had led it to second place among the world’s economies. Naysayers will wonder about the cost of this performance, while being oblivious to the costs that the former Communist nations of Central and Eastern Europe have borne for their memberships in the EU and NATO. Avoiding the pretense of a comprehensive, detailed and incisive analysis of the Chinese political system, one merely tries to highlight part of the day to day reality of living as a foreigner in the most heavily populated country in the world, whether one is in Beijing, Shanghai, Lhasa, Chengdu and Wuhan.

Western communication and Chinese propaganda serve the same role, only with a different content which belies the fundamental differences between Western and Chinese worldviews. The most useful example is the political system, which Western countries would like it to be democratic across the whole swathe of the world, including Beijing, whereas China manifests no preoccupation for the political systems of the countries it is in contact with. Its political system does not admit or promote foreign intervention in the internal matters of another country. Neither does it allow anyone to play politics and those that do cannot do it however they wish.

There is a trend among young people to want to become a member of the CPC, even as entry becomes more and more difficult, with exclusivist tendencies as suggested by the efforts expended to select candidates, and the efforts borne to maintain one’s membership. This army of CPC members and volunteer helpers provide a transparent means of organizing, communicating and running most social and administrative programs, given that party organizations and cells may be met at the level of post offices, private restaurants and hair salons. Membership breeds a certain pride, whereas party membership in Europe might be looked upon as a gesture which taints the member with the ills associated with the political class and paints him as a sort of opportunist.

China is not the only state in the 21st century where a political organization identifies with the country and the economic and social systems. But it is the only country where the state is in full control, as it is assimilated into the political and administrative framework generated and maintained by the Communist Party of China. Above all else, the CPC is a force for social and economic administration. The temptation to compare it to Romania pre-1989 is very strong and justified by the similarities one encounters between China and Romania 26 years ago. The close relations and cooperation between the countries, now and especially then, pose the question of what Romania may have been headed towards had the system changed in a different way from the rapid and brutal turnover that took place.

NOTES
[1] The Chinese Dream / http://www.wpp.com/wpp/marketing/brandz/the-chinese-dream/
[2] Tàishān (泰山), situated in Shandong Province, is one of the five holy mountains of Daoism
[3] Xi Jinping, The Governance of China, Foreign Languages Press Co, Ltd., Beijing, 2014, pp. 41-42.
[4] Idem, pag. 42.
[5] Idem, pag. 47.
[6] Idem, p. 48.
[7] Idem, p.. 49.
[8] Ibidem.
[9] Idem, p. 62
 
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