November 22, 2014

Dream On

Filed under: China,east-west — Kim @ 4:53 pm

Xi Jinping’s contribution to the arsenal of warm and fuzzy CCP catchphrases is “the Chinese dream” and recently I’ve read about it more and seen it plastered on the billboards around Ningbo more. Seems that someone’s trying to get it taken seriously.

What is this “Chinese dream”? First of all, it’s not officially clear what this dream is dreaming for, but it sounds good, leaves a nice warm glow, and can safely adorn billions of billboards and provide the theme for high school public speaking competitions. The other thing, and the CCP must know this of course, is that it alludes to and is derivative of “the American dream”. But the differences are very revealing.

The original (and best) American dream has meant slightly different things to different folk at different times – and that’s inevitable with such a vague and dreamy term. But the kernel of it is that anyone can achieve the good life for themselves in America because the chance is there for everyone to take. Oh, yes, and anyone can become President! It’s an aspiration for the individual, and it’s also a message, or a slogan if you will, that was never foisted from above but was popularized by a historian and picked up and used by we the people.

The Chinese dream, in contrast, came from a speech by the Chinese President and is plastered all over the official media. But what dream is it that the president wants his people to have? What does Xi who must be obeyed want you to yearn for, you huddled masses? Well, sadly it’s nothing along the lines of Xi Jinping dreaming that he’s a butterfly and wondering whether he is just a butterfly dreaming that he’s the boss of the CCP. And since Prez Xi hasn’t deigned to spell out what this dream is all about, then let me, in the spirit of Herr Freud, take a stab at interpreting it. (“Dreams, in Freud’s view, are all forms of “wish fulfillment” — attempts by the unconscious to resolve a conflict of some sort, whether something recent or something from the recesses of the past.”)

It’s a very wordly dream and my take on it is that the Chinese dream is a geo-political dream of a return to a strong China that sits at the centre of the world. It is a dream of a China that will never be bullied again, and so “the century of humiliation” can be finally forgotten because China will be strong, mighty, and feared. (Just like the US!) That’s why China has instituted an “Air Defense Identification Zone” that, it knows, has managed to piss off all its neighbours because it covers territory they consider to be their own. And the Chinese dream is why China is building artificial islands in disputed territory in the South China Sea. As the good old East-West cliché goes, the Chinese dream is a collective dream vs the individualistic American one. China united will be powerful, and any subversive desires that undermine this collective dream will be dealt with harshly. That’s why there’s a crackdown against almost all dissidents these days, and heavy handed attempts to limit the expression of Muslim (and other non-Han) identities.

Someone once defined the difference between authoritarian and totalitarian states as being that the authoritarians just want to stop you from doing certain things whereas the totalitarians want to tell you what to do. Well, seems like the Chinese dream is a totalitarian one in that respect. President Xi is a strong man and he can get inside your head! However, that’s not to say that it’s not a real and genuinely popular dream for a lot of Chinese people. There does seem to me to be a real hunger for military and geo-political power, because it’s equated with respect. When the Japanese “nationalised” the Senkaku/Diaoyu islands a couple of years ago many of my students (mostly but not only the males) thought it was outrageous but told me that they were sure the Chinese government wouldn’t take any military action “like you British did with the Falklands” because they were too cautious. One even told me that “China needs to man up!” Depressing stuff, but not surprising. I remember the cheers that rocked my university dormitory in England when the bombs started falling in the Iraq war. To hear those cheers you’d think it was the UK not the US dropping them. To hear those cheers, you’d think it was intrinsically a good thing to drop bombs. Humans need to grow up, not man up, and you can dream on if you think that’s going to happen anytime soon.

January 14, 2010


Filed under: China,politics — Kim @ 4:29 pm

People who use lolwut and multiple exclamation marks are either twatwits or wannabe wind-up merchants. But when I read the following widely circulated quote I had an epileptic LOLWUT!!! moment.

Foreign ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu said on Thursday that “China’s Internet is open”.

And I am Marie of Romania.

It must be said though that Little Miss “pants are on fire” is rather fetching, in that buttoned-up and stern-looking Chinese way


A shame then that her fair face doth hide what the false heart doth know.

The question is, if she tells such huge lies so brazenly won’t she lose face? She has lost the trust of anyone who knows anything about the internet, that’s for sure.

No no no. She can’t be serious. It would just be too stupid, too embarassing. In modern 21st century China, even the lumbering old CCP has progressed past that level of inanity and/or shamelessness. Yes, I can see now that her quote was a sneaky postmodern humorous allusion to the crassness of the bad old days of Cultural Revolution propaganda. If you look at her carefully, she’s definitely smirking. ROFLMAO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! LOLTWAT

October 4, 2009

It’s all about the CP, dudes

Filed under: China,culture — Kim @ 8:06 am

Following the awesome display of Chinese fembots in the recent Beijing Commy Parade,


I thought I’d repost this cutesy little cartoon.


Now that’s what I call progress.

September 20, 2009

Anyone heard of Banquiao Dam?

Filed under: China,politics — Kim @ 9:37 am

At a recent University of Nottingham in Ningbo conference (China’s 30 years of ‘Opening up and reform’:Continuities and Change ) Jeanette Barbieri and Li Nan gave a paper called: The Spectacle of Disaster Citizenship: A Debordian Perspective on Wenchuan which looked at how the CCP had managed the PR of last year’s big quake.

Inevitably, there were comparisons with the 1976 Tangshan quake, but then during the discussion afterwards one of the History Profs piped up that actually China has had 3 huge disasters in the last 50 years. There are of course the well known and much discussed Tangshan and Wenchuan quakes but he claimed that the third is very rarely talked about. The Prof put out the question to the 50 odd collection of Western and Chinese academics: “Has anyone here heard of “Banquiao”? No one had, or at least if they had they were not admitting to it. I chased the Prof up later about it and he gave me some links to follow.

It was indeed a huge disaster in which “approximately 26,000 people died from flooding and another 145,000 died during subsequent epidemics and famine. In addition, about 5,960,000 buildings collapsed, and 11 million residents were affected.” From what I can fathom, the disaster was caused by a freak typhoon but was made much much worse beacause Cultural Revolution era politicians ignored the advice of expert hydrologist Chen Xing.

It even has its own Wiki page now. So word is getting out.

September 17, 2009

Delicious Irony

Filed under: China,east-west,food — Kim @ 5:19 am

Can’t remember why, but I found myself reading Peter Mandelson’s Wiki profile and came across the below. Old, but priceless…

In 2008, melamine added to Chinese milk caused kidney stones and other ailments in thousands of Chinese children, and killed at least six. To show his confidence in Chinese dairy products, Mandelson drank a glass of Chinese yoghurt in front of reporters. The following week, he was hospitalised for a kidney stone; despite the apparent irony, the events were probably unconnected.[25][26]