During his first weeks in power, Xi Jinping, the new head of the ruling Communist Party, has promoted a slogan designed to unite an increasingly diverse nation: The Chinese Dream. News bulletins across the nation are full of his dream, evoking its American equivalent. A talent show on television is looking for ‘The Voice of the Chinese Dream’.
Unfortunately,Xi Jinping’s dream falls somewhat short of the aspirations outlined so eloquently by Thomas Jefferson in The Declaration of Independence and by James Madison in the Constitution of the United States. It does indeed encompass the pursuit of happiness: ‘To meet our people’s desire for a happy life is our mission.’ Unfortunately, it falls well short of any desire to promote individualism, and especially to advance the liberty of each individual from the reach of the Communist Party.
Instead, Xi Jinping’s dream incorporates a troubling whiff of nationalism and of a repackaged form of authoritarianism. It is no coincidence that Mr. Xi’s first mention of his dream of ‘the great revival of the Chinese nation’ came in November 2012 in a speech at the national museum in Tiananmen Square, where an exhibition called ‘Road to Revival’ lays out China’s past suffering at the hands of colonial powers and its rescue by the Communist Party.
In bowing towards a renewed nationalism, Xi Jinping is already courting China’s armed forces. In December 2012, on an inspection tour of the navy in southern China, he spoke reverently of a ‘strong army dream’. Suggestively, he told the generals that the spirit of a strong army lies in resolutely obeying the orders ofd the Communist Party. The Chinese dreams, he stated is an ideal. Communists should have a higher ideal, and that is Communism.
Of one thing, one can be absolutely certain. Xi Jinping’s dream falls well short of any notion of the rule of law. The rule of law can only come to China when dictatorship collapses. And Xi Jinping’s dream does not carry with it any notion whatsoever of a martyr’s death.
Hat Tip: ‘Xi Jinping and the Chinese Dream’, The EconomistMay 4, 2011