Chinese President Xi Jinping didn’t talk about his dream during the two-day summit with U.S. President Barack Obama last weekend, but China watchers and analysts have tried to unravel its meaning.
China’s President Xi may not have talked about his dream — what he calls the “China Dream”— during his first “face-to-face” talks with U.S. President Obama, but some perceptive China watchers and analysts have written about its meaning and implications for all countries of the world.
President Xi’s dream, in the view of Damian Grammaticos, China correspondent of BBC News, “is to lead a Chinese renaissance so China can resume its rightful place in the world. As one of the most powerful leaders on the planet, “he can, if he wishes, influence the destiny of hundreds of millions of people, inside and outside China. He can shape history. So will he? And if so, how? What does his dream mean?”
Xi, whose real power comes not so much as China’s president, who was elected by delegates at the National People’s Congress late last year, but as general secretary of the Communist Party and commander-in-chief of China’s armed forces. He didn’t set out a manifesto, but he indicated that his dream was to make China “prosperous, powerful and proud once again.”
But, according to other China observers, the most significant indication of Xi’s intentions as China’s leader was not his public talk of his dream, but his private messages to Chinese Communist Party members to strengthen the party and to the Chinese military armed forces to continue to pledge allegiance to the CCP, soon after he, then vice president, was elevated as the new president.
One China watcher, Gao Yu, who follows the politics of China’s leaders, believes that while Xi is being portrayed as a man with a dream, he won’t do anything to destabilize China’s current political system. “The army is the foundation of our country, and Xi thinks the army is the ultimate guarantee of the party’s rule,” Gao says. “The party has to control the military. It does not belong to country or the people…and Xi’s vision of making China richer and stronger matters not as a goal in itself, but because it will strengthen the rule of the Communist Party.”
Another analyst, Robert Lawrence Kuhn, author “How China’s Leaders Think: the Inside Story of China’s reform and What This Means for the Future,” wrote that “the Chinese Dream is the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation.” He described Xi’s dream as achieving the material goal of China becoming a moderately well-off society by about 2020, the l00th anniversary of the Chinese Communist Party, and the modernization goal of China becoming a fully-developed nation by about 2049, the 100th anniversary of the People’s Republic.
“The Chinese dream,” Kuhn said, “has four parts: strong China (economically, politically, diplomatically, scientifically, and militarily); Civilized China (equity and fairness, rich culture, high morals); Harmonious China (amity among social classes); Beautiful China (healthy environment, low pollution).”
And he explained that “Xi is putting nationalism at the core of his leadership — his nationalism is proactive, riding the high road of patriotism and pride…Xi has deep-seated patriotic convictions, the product of family, life and career. His father, Xi Zhongxun, was a founder of the new China and a leading reformer under Deng Xiaoping. In 2006, when Xi Jinping was party secretary of Zhejiang Province, he told me about Chinese pride and patriotism as motivating China’s historic resurgence — words remarkably similar to his recent pronouncements.”
So, is President Xi Jinping a reformer and a nationalist? The answer, according to Kuhn, is that he is both, because only by being a nationalist can he be a reformer. And he urged American policy makers to understand Xi’s nationalism so that when the reigning superpower meets the rising superpower, both can benefit.
That is, exactly, President Xi Jinping’s “China Dream”!
Before his informal summit talks with President Obama in California, President Xi visited Central America and the Caribbean, to underscored China’s growing ties in the American hemisphere.
In Trinidad and Tobago, he met with 10 Caribbean leaders and promised $3-billion in loans for projects in the region. Among the loans was one for $250-million to build a children’s hospital in Trinidad. He also gave billions in loans and aid to Caribbean nations to build stadiums, roads, ports, and tourist resorts.
Then he traveled to Costa Rica and promised almost $300-million in loans to finish building a highway. And finally, he visited Mexico City to recast his relationship with Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto, and finally to Sunnylands in California for his tete- a- tete with Obama.
Xi’s visits to the Americas was interpreted by China watchers and analysts as a message reminding the U.S. that just as the U.S. has influence in Asian regions close to China, China has rising influence in the Americas, too.
Indeed, China is pursuing a soft but unstoppable form of economic domination, according to Herberto Araullo and Juan Pablo O. Cardinal, authors of “China’s Silent Army: The Pioneers, Traders, Fixers, and Workers Who are Remaking the World in Beijing’s Image.” They said that China has been buying companies, exploiting natural resources, building infrastructure and giving loans all over the world, in Europe, Africa, Northern America, and Asia, and, yes, even in the United States.
Don’t all this give one the impression of China under President Xi Jinping as an aggressive rising economic, and perhaps military, world power?