Experts interpret the Chinese Dream

Updated: 2013-12-08 07:02

By Wang Zhenghua in Shanghai (China Daily)

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Officials and scholars from around the world offered diverse views of how the Chinese Dream concept championed by President Xi Jinping will benefit the country and the world at the International Dialogue on the Chinese Dream seminar in Shanghai on Saturday.

The Chinese Dream - put forth by Xi soon after he ascended to China's top leadership position in November 2012 - calls for realizing a moderately prosperous society, national rejuvenation and people's happiness.

State Council Information Office Minister Cai Mingzhao told the seminar the call has resonated among the people and become a primary public discussion point.

"The Chinese Dream has a strong appeal because it reflects the wishes of hundreds of millions of Chinese for a beautiful future," Cai said.

Its appeal draws from public confidence of its attainability, as well as trust in, and support of, the new central leadership.

Cai cited a survey conducted in June by the Guangdong Provincial Survey and Research Center that found most respondents endorsed the Chinese Dream and were optimistic about its realization. Specifically, 89.4 percent believed the Chinese Dream can be achieved, it showed.

"In the past year since the convening of the 18th Communist Party of China National Congress, the CPC Central Committee, led by General Secretary Xi Jinping, has broken new ground, introduced new working styles and made new progress in various fields," Cai said.

The top political body has adopted eight measures to combat corruption and launched "mass line" educational activities for the Party to ensure officials are honest, the government is clean and political affairs are handled with integrity, he added.

Kuhn Foundation chairman, commentator and writer Robert Lawrence Kuhn answered foreign critics' charge that the Chinese Dream is vague and sloganeering in his keynote seminar speech.

He proposed a taxonomy of five dimensions from which to analyze the concept - national, personal, historical, global and antithetical.

The "personal Chinese Dream", for instance, focuses on the well-being of individual citizens and thus modifies traditional notions of the primacy of the collective over the individual.

"In other words, to fulfill properly the national Chinese dream is to fulfill properly the personal Chinese dream," he said.

"Thus, the personal Chinese Dream refutes the foreign stereotype that China sacrifices individuals to serve the purposes of the collective."

The personal dream, he explained, can be divided into two subcategories: material or physical well-being, and mental or psychological well-being.

Brookings Institution senior research fellow Kenneth Lieberthal outlined an "extraordinarily complicated set of obstacles" for China's leaders to achieve the Chinese Dream's goals.

One challenge is the most rapid demographic transition in peacetime history, which will also be the first to produce an elderly population before the country becomes rich in per-capita terms.

Another challenge is staggering resource scarcity. One such extreme shortage is of usable water in the North China Plain.

"I raise the above issues not to suggest that pessimism is warranted but rather to indicate the types of objective, major obstacles that must be handled in order to satisfy national aspirations to achieve the Chinese Dream," he said.

The Chinese political system is highly capable and pragmatic, and has managed many major challenges in the past, he added.

The two-day seminar hosted by China's State Council Information Office attracted experts from more than 20 countries, including the United States, Canada, Australia, Egypt, Japan and India.

It comprised three parallel roundtable discussions on three topics: the Chinese Dream and Chinese path; the Chinese Dream and world prosperity; and the Chinese Dream and peaceful development.