24 October 2018

Defining Xi’s ‘Chinese Dream’

Jacob L. Shapiro

In 2012, after being named the new leader of the Chinese Communist Party, President Xi Jinping gave his first public address in front of the 18th National Congress and declared that the party’s main duty was “to achieve the great renewal of the Chinese nation.” It’s an ambitious statement that has induced much debate, not only because it defined a new vision for China’s future but also because it’s an exceedingly hard phrase to translate. The Chinese version is “zhonghua minzu weida fuxing.” The important part is “zhonghua minzu” – which has been translated as “the Chinese nation,” “the Chinese people” and even “the Chinese race.” The problem isn’t really the phrase’s lack of an English equivalent but that, even in Chinese, its meaning is ambiguous. And considering Xi has made renewal of the zhonghua minzu the cornerstone of what he calls the “Chinese Dream,” it’s an enormously important ambiguity.

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