Myriad visions

Source:Global Times Published: 2013-5-7 11:03:00

Residents in Zhangjiajie, Hunan Province hold a night gala on January 22, 2013. Photo: CFP
Residents in Zhangjiajie, Hunan Province hold a night gala on January 22, 2013. Photo: CFP

Q: What's your understanding of the Chinese dream?

Wang Huiyao, director general of Center for China and Globalization, a think tank based in Beijing

China used to be a powerful country and created a glorious history. It also suffered oppression.

Currently, China has stood up prominently in terms of its economic strength. The disadvantages of the development mode of developed countries and the advantages of that of China have begun to show. China is encountering the best opportunity for national revival since the prosperous period of the Tang Dynasty (618-907). The Chinese dream is intended to remind our people that our nation has the ability to create our own national dream and to encourage the people in the face of historical opportunities.

Charles W. Freeman, a retired US ambassador and senior defense official

I suspect I am far from alone in considering the Chinese dream concept still very undeveloped in terms of substantive content. I just don't understand it well enough to comment in an informed or useful way.

William H. Overholt, a senior research fellow at the Harvard Kennedy School Ash Center

Foreigners are debating whether the dream is primarily about creating a wonderful life for the Chinese people or whether it is primarily about being more powerful than China's neighbors. No foreigner can reasonably claim to know the answer until we have heard and seen more.

Wang Yiwei, professor of School of International Relations at Renmin University of China

The Chinese dream is a trinity of the Chinese people's dream, China's dream and the Chunghwa dream. First, the Chinese dream is basically Chinese people's dream of success. Second, China's dream is to make the Chinese nation powerful and respectful. Third, the Chunghwa dream is the great rejuvenation of Chinese civilization.

Sherwood Goldberg, a retired US Army colonel and senior advisor on Asian affairs with the Center for Naval Analysis

Nationalistic dreams are only mere slogans if the aspirations included in such dreams are stillborn. A dream is a hope for a better future. The use of such a term is motivational and that is what is expected of leaders, to lead people to a better standard of living, a better society and a more positive future. 

Lau Siu-kai, emeritus professor of sociology of the Department of Sociology at the Chinese University of Hong Kong and a CPPCC member

The Chinese dream is an ideal pursued by all the Chinese in the past 200 years, which means China should be powerful, democratic, united and harmonious and be respected by other countries in terms of values and systems. Hong Kong, as the most modern part of China and renowned for its international status, should cooperate with the mainland to fulfill the Chinese dream.

Hei Yu-lung, president of Dale Carnegie Training based in Taiwan and Shanghai 

In the past, when people talked about China, their impression was that China was a poor and underdeveloped country. After China's reform and opening-up, the image was of China's cheap manufacturing industry and the Chinese people working hard to make money. The notion of the Chinese dream is that in the future when people think of China, they can think beyond the material level, instead, they think of China's profound culture and admirable lifestyle.

Q: What are the differences between the Chinese dream and the American dream?

Wang Yiwei: The Chinese dream is to make a strong nation first and then to create conditions to make its people great while the American dream is to make the nation great through making individuals great first.

Sherwood Goldberg: Both the US and Chinese public expect leaders to share their dreams, their personal aspirations for their people, and in turn the people are provided with guideposts for contributing to the fulfillment of the articulated dreams. The question for each of us is what we can do to bring the dreams to reality. We must ask if we have done what former US president John Kennedy said, "Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country!"

Lau Siu-kai: The American dream is stressed at the individual level while the Chinese dream is promoted at the national level. However, as long as we Chinese have common goals and ideals, which are represented by the Chinese dream, we can jointly strive for realizing the dream.

Hei Yu-lung: One difference between the two dreams is that the American dream has religious belief as its foundation. Every week, a family would go to the church and spend an hour or two on thinking about interpersonal relations or how they can improve themselves. In other words, their dreams may be how to be a better or happier person. While in China, people are always anxious to achieve quick success and get instant benefits. There is a lack of care and solicitude among people, which cannot be gained through money.

William H. Overholt: The American dream is an individual dream, based on the opportunities US society is believed to create for anyone to rise from poverty to success, like in Horatio Alger stories. Another variant of the American dream is the belief that anyone, even people with disadvantages, can become president of the US. Barack Obama embodies that version of the dream. Xi Jinping's Chinese dream seems to be that, through the hard work of the Chinese people and correct policies, China will become a rich and powerful nation again. It seems to be focused on the nation rather than the individual.

Christopher Lewis, an expert with the Schiller Institute in Germany

The American dream was the vision of Abraham Lincoln, Franklin Roosevelt and John F. Kennedy and Martin Luther King and today is that of Lyndon LaRouche. These great leaders have fought for human dignity and three have paid with their lives for it. Unfortunately with the assassination of former president Kennedy, the dream became a nightmare of unending wars and a financial dictatorship by the Wall Street and the City of London.

The Chinese dream has also had great visionaries like Sun Yat-sen and Deng Xiaoping. These great leaders had a vision for the development of China and the World. President Xi's Chinese dream can be a dream for all Chinese to "reach for the stars" and have a productive life, living in peace.  

Q: What's your own Chinese dream? How is it related to the Chinese dream the government is promoting?

Wang Yiwei: My dream is to resume China's global prosperity as in two famous dynasties of the past, the Han (206BC-220AD) and the Tang. We could build China into a global power and leadership-oriented power in the world. 

Lau Siu-kai: I hope the mainland and Hong Kong could further deepen cooperation. Hong Kong's development cannot be separated from the development of the mainland. Any policy beneficial to joint development of Hong Kong and the mainland is in Hong Kong's interests. The Chinese dream means our country's aspiration to upgrade and improve, which will stimulate Hong Kong's progress.

Wang Huiyao: I define myself as a social entrepreneur, a notion raised by US author David Bornstein in his book How to Change the World: Social Entrepreneurs and the Power of New Ideas. Since China carried out reforms on the market economy, enterprises have played an increasingly important role, as the power and function of the government has become limited. China needs a platform where new ideas and thoughts can be exchanged and that can provide suggestions to the government.

Edward Chang, a businessman from Hong Kong

Some 20 years ago my family made a tour to Hawaii. When we were shopping in a store, the salespersons greeted us in Japanese. But after they found we are Chinese, they lost interest in us. This made me think that if China could get stronger, people would not treat us like that. Now salespersons in the US and other countries welcome Chinese tourists to make money, but at the same time they are disgusted with Chinese customers' behavior. Our Chinese behavior in some sense represents China and is a kind of soft power. We really need to improve our education and degree of civilization to make China really integrated into the world.

Chan Kam Meng, vice president of the Macao Federation of Trade Unions

As an officer from Macao, I'm happy to see the rapid economic development and growing internationalization of Macao under the support of the central government. Macao's future is closely tied to the nation. We Macanese should enhance our understanding of the national situation and our national identities as Chinese. We should learn more about the lifestyles, pursuits, customs and values of the mainlanders. All the Chinese should unite together to devote to the realization the Chinese dream.

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