“Chinese Models and Chinese Dreams: Myths and Realities of Political Governance in Contemporary China”

Sponsor: Centre for Chinese Research, St. John’s College
Place: Room 120, C.K.Choi Building
Type: Roundtable Discussion
Date: Friday, Nov 27, 2015
Time: 3PM – 5PM


Event Description:

“The China Dream” (Zhongguo meng), which Chinese President Xi Jinping invoked in a March 2013 speech, has since become the signature ideology of the Xi administration. China should be aspirational. Like Hu Jintao’s “Harmonious Society” (hexie shehui), the phrase has been actively promoted by the Chinese Party-state as a means to unify the populace with a single Big Idea, and to promote a positive vision of the People’s Republic abroad. Though vaguely defined, the China Dream is one of China advancing on its own terms, relying on what Xi called a “China Way” of “Socialism with Chinese Characteristics.”

This panel will discuss the how The China Dream intersects—in rhetoric and in practice—with governance in contemporary China. As Geremie Barmé points out, Chinese officials and media outlets alike routinely use “the word ‘dream’ (meng) metaphorically to describe the country’s re-emergence as a major power.” Political theorists like Daniel A. Bell have recently argued that there exists a “China Model” of meritocratic political culture that is in some respects superior to American-style democracy. Has China, as Bell argues, “evolved a model of democratic meritocracy that is morally desirable and politically stable,” realizing a key hope of the China Dream? Or does the notion of a China Model represent yet another form of “Sinomania,” a Western disposition to find superiority in Chinese difference? More fundamentally, how are we to reconcile various hypothetical Chinese Dreams and Chinese Models with the actual realities of governance in contemporary China?


Dr. Daniel A. Bell, Chair Professor of the Schwartzman Scholar Program, Tsinghua University
Dr. Timothy Cheek, Louis Cha Chair in Chinese Research, UBC
Dr. Paul Evans, Professor, Institute of Asian Research and Liu Institute for Global Issues, UBC
Dr. Xiaojun Li, Assistant Professor of Political Science, UBC
Moderated by Dr. Alison Bailey, Research Associate, Centre for Chinese Research, UBC