Comparison between the Chinese dream and the American dream draws criticism online

Alia | June 12th, 2013 - 3:18 pm

The Chinese dream, China’s biggest propaganda since the “harmonious society” by former president Hu Jintao, will probably be the hallmark of the country’s new boss Xi Jinping. Even since the concept was announced by Xi in late 2012 shortly after he tool power, there has been a top-down movement to push research and promotions around the topic.

1Shi Yuzhi, Stanford Ph.D and tenure associate professor of Chinese language and linguistics at National University of Singapore, is among scholars who jumped on the Chinese dream bandwagon, and is one that has particularly drew criticism from Chinese netizens.

In late May, Shi wrote an essay on the 7 differences between the Chinese dream and the American dream, in which he argued that the best angel to study the Chinese dream to the compare it with its American counterpart. His main argument was that the Chinese dream is a dream for the collective, while the American dream is a dream for individuals. For example, Shi concluded that the Chinese dream is to realize the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation, whereas the American dream is to realize personal success; the Chinese dream depends on the Chinese themselves, whereas the American dream requires the resources of other countries; the Chinese dream is about the harmonious happiness of the masses, whereas the American dream is about the freedom and enjoyment of each individual.

The article, without a doubt, received tons of criticism and ridicule from netizens. In their eyes, Shi put the country on the opposite side of the people. What he described as the Chinese dream sounded more like something that the government would force down your throat. One netizen 西门不暗 commented: “To put his arguments in one sentence: The Chinese dream has nothing to do with the Chinese people.”

To a lot of people’s surprise, this week, Shi published another essay, discussing the 7 similarities between the Chinese dream and the American dream. It was right after Xi Jinping made comments on the potential common ground shared by the two dreams during his first summit meeting with US president Barack Obama. How timely.

In the article, Shi argued that the Chinese dream is based on the premise of global development and world peace, and is thus in a good position to work together with the American dream. He also mentioned that in order to realize either dreams, China and the US need to work together. Now Chinese netizens called Shi a loyal dog and a professional ass kisser who “has no shame or bottom line.”

Different or not from the American dream, the Chinese dream, as a topic for debate, is here to stay. The concept may not mean anything concrete for an average Chinese people, but everyone has dream of his/her own, regardless of whether it aligns with the national dream. In a top trending topic on Sina Weibo, China’s Twitter-like social media, Chinese netizens were asked to describe their “dream life,” and some 10 million netizens shared their vision. Below is a sample.

哞哞侠: “My dream life is to be able to do interesting things as long as I’m awake.”

居煜萱小宝贝: “My dream life is to run a farm with my loved ones. We’d work when the sun rises and rest when the sun sets. Every morning, I can feel the sun and the breeze. And most important of all, I can spend my whole life with the one I love.”

一念执着_千百度: “My dream life is to take my camera to every corner of the world, to take pictures of people from all walks of life, and to write down touching moments. I’d do whatever it takes to realize this dream. Dream is one’s motivation to stay alive.”

小欢欢要去当服务员: “My dream life is to have a stable job, a man who loves me, a cute baby and a nice dog.”

彼岸8113: “My dream life is to age with my loved one, plus a stable job.”

流浪_Mrlonely: “Two kids; parents in good health and a loving wife. A warm home, that is my dream life. Every night before I go to bed, someone’d say good night to me. Every morning after I open my eyes, someone’d give me a kiss. That’s all of my dream.”

合浦仔仔彬luffy君: “My dream life includes a cat, a dog and a simple and funny wife. To have a decent shelter and enough to eat. To travel at least once a year. That’s all.”

Georgeki锐: “My dream life is when I don’t need to worry about price during shopping.”

風華依舊__FIONAna: “Work for my dream, not for money.”

梁欣儿-: “A home with a mom, a dad and two kids. Simple and happy. That’s my dream life.”

黑白心纸_: “My dream life is to open my own store, and to have a husband who loves me and whom I love. A loving home with a cute son and an active daughter. It’s my goal.”

When these netizens visualized their dream life online, they surely didn’t think of labeling it Chinese or American. It’s just their dream. It has nothing to do with politics, it’s something very specific that they can work for.

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