The China Dream in Question 


Zhao Tingyang, Chinese Academy of Social Sciences

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Abstract: The ‘China dream’ has become a public topic open to debate this year, partly due to new chairman Xi Jinping’s encouraging claim of it, reminding people of the Chinese pursuit of national revival for more than a century. Interpretation of the governmental message is not the aim of this paper. Instead, I will try to develop a historical and philosophical analysis of Chinese pursuits that might be said to be China’s dreams. My understanding of China’s dreams remains basically similar to my earlier discussion in a paper titled “American dream, European dream and China’s dream” (Transcultural Dialogue No. 18, 2006). That is, China’s dreams have been painful dreams during hard times, the dreams to survive by modernization (actually westernization), so as to catch up with the great powers, at the unhappy cost of self-devaluation of Chinese culture and tradition. Consequently, the China dream has not yet fully demonstrated its Chineseness as meant to be or expected to be, but rather partly, or mainly, has been a westernized dream up until now. The expression China dream (中国梦) may not always be the dream of China (中国之梦), unless it can develop the ideal of China. In this paper, I will examine challenging questions related to Chinese pursuits, practical efforts and theoretical ideals.

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