Paper Republic: Chinese Literature Matters

The Guardian Review of China Dream

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In 2012, President Xi Jinping used the phrase the Chinese Dream (zhōngguó mèng) to describe “the great rejuvenation” of the nation. A national solidarity movement, the Chinese Dream attempts to fuse cultural pride and individual self-realisation with the country’s economic growth and rising influence. The slogan is everywhere, on billboards, in speeches and advertisements, and mixes patriotism and self-help with the “twin goals of reclaiming national pride and achieving personal wellbeing”.

Ma was born in 1953, the same year as Xi Jinping. Both men witnessed the shaming, exile and loss of family members during Mao Zedong’s political campaigns. In 1983, Ma himself was arrested for the crime of spiritual pollution; he chronicled his exile to the most remote regions of the country in Red Dust, an unforgettable memoir of post-Mao China. Today, the lives of Ma and Xi remain strikingly at odds. In 2018, Xi ended term limits on the presidency, thus opening the door to his indefinite rule. Ma, barred from even entering China, has mischievously stolen Xi’s signature slogan.

attached to: Zhongguo Meng


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