The China Dream

The Chinese dream is based in historical reality, but also in the future. It is national, ethnic, and it belongs to every Chinese person. It is ours, and most of all it belongs to the young generations.

—Xi Jinping

China's leaders have traditionally used big-idea slogans to promote the ideals and governing philosophy they want to foster for the present and future of the country. These slogans, due in part to their simplicity and vagueness, pack a lot into a few words and people who know China—or want to learn about the world's most populous nation—must think deeply about them.

When they make pronouncements in slogan form, the leaders of China's central government aren't just articulating a philosophy or trying to inspire people: they are defining the vision and end point for mechanisms of legal and social development, for enterprise, and for resource management. A landmark statement by the chairman of the Communist Party is not an attempt to create a mood or inspire the population. It's a national strategy.

Deng Xiaoping, China's de facto leader from 1978 to 1992, set the stage for the early post-Mao years with his policy of “Four Modernizations” (agriculture, industry, science and technology, and the military). Deng affixed two names to the next era: Reform and Opening and Socialism with Chinese Characteristics. It was a movement that birthed the Chinese economic miracle of the past 30 years.

What he meant by socialism with Chinese characteristics ...

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