At the 20th People’s Congress, President Xi Jinping expounded on the ‘Chinese dream,’ causing a heated debate to unfold. The Chinese dream is comparable to a “pair of shoes” that have been tailored solely for the Chinese people to wear—shoes that are only comfortable if the Chinese people put them on. These shoes have a youthful shine; they let you walk with wings. The best way to understand this may be to compare it with the famous ‘American dream.’

[h4] Seven Main Differences between the Chinese Dream and the American Dream[/h4]

Until now, only large countries like China and American can be ‘dreaming.’ Not every country has the necessary prerequisites to ‘dream.’ It requires seizing one’s destiny and daring to imagine. It requires the strength and confidence to realize these dreams. Only then can one ‘dream.’ Without these, a small country in the shadow of a giant will have an uneasy fate, and who can dream peacefully then? A resource-scarce country, with their economic lifeline in the hands of another, trembles with fear all day. How can they then dare to sleep without a care in the world?

Let me breakdown the contents of the ‘Chinese dream’ and ‘American dream.’

“To realize a healthy society, to build a rich democratic culture and peaceful society is a goal the country struggles to achieve. The Chinese people’s biggest hope is to realize national wealth, social development, and happiness.”  –President Xi at the close of the 20th People’s Congress

“Let all of our classes rise up, become more prosperous and happier in living the ‘American dream.’ This is our purpose now, to make our biggest contribution to the world’s ideas and well-being.” –James Truslow Adams, The Epic of America

The Chinese and American dreams are inevitably different, having been determined by their respective histories, cultures, economics, and geographies. These differences and their causes can be summarized into seven points.

One, the Chinese dream is about national prosperity. The America dream is about individual prosperity.

Compared to China, America has a huge geographic advantage. Surrounded by water on three sides, the US is easy to defend and hard to attack. A tyrant since the beginning of its history, the US has never been subjugated by another nation. Instead, the US frequently seizes the natural resources of other states. As such, they have never worried about their country’s safety. People are free to concentrate on their dreams for wealth. Since ancient times, however, China’s borders have always been in peril. Throughout history, attacks on China’s borders have never ceased and China has even been dominated a few times. Historical lessons have taught us that a country’s strength resides in its people’s ability to live and work in a peaceful environment. Therefore, the Chinese dream must, first and foremost, prioritize national strength.

Two, the goal of the Chinese dream is national rejuvenation. The goal of the American dream is individual achievement.

China is made of people from the Han ethnicity and multiple other minority groups. Together, these people make up the Chinese nation. Since ancient times, Chinese people were born and raised here, shared adversities together, have had inseparable ties, and thus have very deep feelings for this land. The people share one consensus, which is that if the ethnicity is vulnerable and subject to bullying by other nations, the individual’s dignity will be lost. If life and property cannot be protected, how can you find happiness then? America’s ethnic makeup is more complicated. Black people have been discriminated against for a long time, and although the law treats them equally now, a small incident can cause a racial conflict. America is a multi-ethnic country, without the concept of a motherland, so they can only speak about individual achievements.

Three, the Chinese dream must be realized by the Chinese people. The American dream can only be realized using the human resources of other countries.

The concept of the American dream can be traced back to the American constitution, which emphasizes the innate capabilities of people. Everyone has the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. The American dream emphasizes that no matter where you were born or what your social status is, everyone can rely on their own ability to seize opportunities for success. For many people from small European countries, these precepts were very attractive and encouraged them to take the risk of going to America. Historically, the United States repeatedly used the people of other nations to develop herself. For example, the early introduction of a large number of black people from Africa brought to the United States to engage in cultivation. In the 19th century, Chinese labor was used to build the railroads. Now, there are more laborers from Mexico and Eastern Europe doing all kinds of work while Caucasian Americans enjoy a life of leisure and playing golf all day. China, on the other hand, has 1.3 billion people and cannot rely on bringing in outsiders to develop itself.  That’s why President Xi stated, “the Chinese dream requires walking down the Chinese path,” “the Chinese dream requires using Chinese energy,” “the Chinese dream requires harnessing Chinese power.”

Four, the Chinese dream is about group harmony and happiness. The American dream is about individual freedom and happiness.

From early on, Chinese people held the concept of “homeland” and the idea of the community very strongly. Within a household, only when relations are harmonious and everyone is in good health can an individual be happy. For Chinese people, happiness is a group idea. In a family, happiness is shared; in a country, happiness is also shared.  President Xi used three shared ideas to depict the source of the Chinese dream: “shared joy can bring color to life, shared joy can make dreams come true, shared joy can move a country towards progress.” Western culture emphasizes the individual and the individual pursuit of freedom and happiness.

Five, the Chinese dream has a long history behind it. The American dream relies solely on experience.

The confidence to realize the Chinese dream comes partly from history. The Chinese nation has about 5000 years of history. China was at many times extremely strong, being the most prosperous nation in the world. The recent increase in popularity of Imperial historical dramas reflects the thoughts of the public. Western countries are worried about China’s sudden rise because of China’s history: the West believes that, historically, Chinese people have the ability to rise up. When a small country, which has never been powerful, begins yelling, other countries will regard it as a joke. When President Xi Jinping said the phrase, “to realize the Chinese nation’s great rejuvenation,” his use of the term “rejuvenation” revealed optimism and confidence. America, on the other hand, only has two to three hundred years of history. When building its nation, America relied on other nation’s resources to eventually become a superpower. The American dream is about avoiding reality and not allowing challenges to their power to arise; thus being able to continue their sweet dream.

Six, the Chinese dream combines everyone’s wisdom and effort. The American dream relies on individualism.

To realize the Chinese dream, everyone’s power and hard work must be harnessed. The Chinese dream uses everyone’s intelligence and knowledge and directs it in one direction. The Chinese dream relies on a concrete concept of China’s force and wisdom. The Chinese dream depends on the entire nation’s cooperation. Looking through history, it’s not hard to discover that China is a splendid nation, but it is also a nation that squanders and self-destructs. Often, China develops for a short period and then stalls for a period; this is why Chinese development always retreats. To realize the Chinese dream, everyone must be aware of the overarching goal. The American dream is about everyone walking down their own paths, each seeking individual goals of wealth and happiness. As such, individual accomplishments contributed to America’s power. Chinese people can accomplish great things, but they must be united in their ideas.

Seven, the Chinese dream is about the people’s glory. The American dream is for the individual’s glory.

Since the Opium Wars, foreign powers have occupied China and made Chinese people suffer. After many treaties of national betrayal and humiliation, after many huge disasters, these are all scars the Chinese people bear. In modern times, many Chinese people sacrificed their lives for their nation’s honor and security, for the people’s safety and happiness. “Today, the People’s Republic stands strong in the East,” declared General Secretary Xi Jinping. Without this painful national history, it would be hard to understand the hopes of Chinese people. Since America does not have this type of pain, America does not dream the same types of dreams. The American dream stresses individual prosperity and success, and the individual’s rise in society.

It must also be understood that just as the American dream changes, so does the Chinese dream. With social progress, people’s hopes will also change and the dreams will not remain the same.

The above analysis argues that the “Chinese Dream” is comparable to a pair of shoes tailored for the Chinese foot. Although life in China is focused on dreaming [now], it is only with action that a person’s dreams come true.

[h4] 中国梦区别于美国梦的七大特征 [/h4]

在十二届人大会议上,习主席全面阐述了“中国梦”,热议如潮。然而要透彻理解“中国梦”就是给中国人民量身定做的“一双鞋子”,只有穿上它才舒适,才轻快,才青春焕发,才健步如飞,那么最好的视角就是与著名的那双美国鞋子——“美国梦”来比较一下。

迄今为止,敢以国家来“做梦”的只有中国和美国这种大国。要知道,不是每个国家都有资格来做梦的,只有命运掌握在自己手中,有足够大的时空去想像,有实力和自信去实现,才能自己做自己的梦。否则,一个蕞尔小国卧榻在另一大国之侧,自己的命运朝不保夕,睡觉都不踏实,哪能悠哉悠哉地做梦?资源匮乏的国家,经济命脉捏在别人的手心里,一天到晚胆战心惊,怎敢呼噜呼噜睡大觉?

先让我们再重温一下“中国梦”和“美国梦”的具体内容。

实现全面建成小康社会、建成富强民主文明和谐的社会主义现代化国家的奋斗目标,实现中华民族伟大复兴的中国梦,就是要实现国家富强、民族振兴、人民幸福。——习近平在十二届全国人大一次会议闭幕会上的讲话

让我们所有阶层的公民过上更好、更富裕和更幸福的生活的美国梦,这是我们迄今为止,为世界的思想和福利作出的最伟大的贡献。

——摘自詹姆斯 特拉斯洛 亚当斯(James Truslow Adams)的《美国史诗》

中国梦与美国梦的不同是必然的,这是由历史、文化、经济、地理等因素决定的。两者的差别及其原因可以概括为如下七点。

中国梦是国家的富强,美国梦是个人的富裕

较之中国,美国具有巨大的地理优势,三面环海,易守难攻,建国伊始就是一霸,历史上从未受到其他国家的侵略征服,倒是常常主动出击攫取他国资源。所以他们一直没有国家安全之忧,人民可以专心做自己发财致富的梦。但是,自古以来,中国周边的环境一直极为险恶,历史上与周边国家的征战从没有停止过,几次被其他民族征服蹂躏。历史的教训告诉我们,国家的富强是人民安居乐业的前提和保障,所以中国梦必须把“国家富强”放在第一位。

中国梦的目的是民族振兴,美国梦的目的是个人成功

中国是一个以汉民族为主体的多民族国家,统称为中华民族,自古以来生于兹养于兹,患难与共,休戚相关,对这块热土具有十分深厚的感情。大家有一个共识,民族孱弱,任人欺凌,个人的尊严就会丧失,生命财产得不到保护,哪有幸福可言?美国的民族情况远比中国复杂,黑白两极对立,黑人长期受白人歧视,现在虽然法律上是平等了,但是骨子里的不平等是一时无法消除的,一件小事就可引起内部激烈的民族冲突。美国是个移民国家,人们没有乡土依恋,缺乏民族观念,自然也就只谈个人的成功。

中国梦必须由中国人自己来实现,美国梦可以利用其他国家的人才资源达到

“美国梦”的概念可以追溯到《独立宣言》,强调天赋人权,每个人都有同样的生存、自由和追求幸福的权利。“美国梦”特别是强调,不管出身、不论阶级,每个人具有同等靠自己的能力和成就而获得成功的机会。这对那些阶级分明的欧洲小国的人具有极大的吸引力,诱惑他们、鼓励他们来美国冒险。历史上,美国多次利用其他民族的人民来发展自己的国家。比如早期从非洲引进大量黑人搞种植,十九世纪利用中国劳力修铁路,现在又大量吸收墨西哥、东欧的人从事各种各样的体力工作,很多白人成了有闲阶级,整日打高尔夫享清福。然而,中国是一个具有13亿人的大国,不可能靠大量引进外来人才发展自己,所以习总书记才强调“实现中国梦必须走中国道路”,“实现中国梦必须弘扬中国精神”,“实现中国梦必须凝聚中国力量”。

中国梦是群体的和谐幸福,美国梦是个人的自由和快乐

中国人自古就有一个“家国”的概念,群体意识一直很浓,讲究的是“家和万事兴”。一个家庭之内,关系和睦,人人安康,自己才能幸福。所以中国人的幸福是群体意识的。在一个家庭内部,幸福是共享的;在一个国家内部,幸福也是共享的。所以,习近平总书记用三个“共同”来描绘中国梦的愿景:“共同享有人生出彩的机会,共同享有梦想成真的机会,共同享有同祖国和时代一起成长与进步的机会”。然而欧美文化则强调的是个人主义,追求的是个人的自由和快乐。

中国梦具有纵深的历史感,美国梦只有现实的体验

实现中国梦的自信相当一部分是来自历史。中华民族具有上下五千年的文明史,历史上多次强盛,曾是那个时期世界上最富强的国家。最近这些年帝王连续剧的繁荣,反映的就是大众这种心态。西方一些国家担心中国崛起,其中一部分因素就是来自历史,因为他们相信中国人具有再现历史的能力。一个历史上从没有强盛过的小国家,你吆喝得再厉害,别人也只会把你当做笑话看。习近平总书记这句话“实现中华民族伟大复兴的中国梦”里就用了“复兴”这个词,其中就透露着乐观和自信。然而,美国只有两三百年的历史,自建国起,靠利用其他国家的资源和人才逐渐变成一个超级大国,所以它的梦是把现实延续下去,不让挑战他的力量出现,一直可以做自己的美梦。

中国梦依赖群策群力,美国梦靠的是个性张扬

实现中国梦,要凝聚大家的力量,人人给力,踏实勤干,利用每个人的聪明才智,朝一个方向努力。它靠的是集体的意识,集体的力量,集体的智慧。一句话,中国梦要靠全民族强大的合力来实现。纵观历史,不难发现,中华民族是个优秀的民族,但是也是个喜欢折腾的民族,自毁力强大的民族,很多时候是发展一段,折腾一段,致使国家的发展可能不进则退。所以,现在要实现梦想,就必须统一大家的意识,明确一个目标,劲往一处使。然而美国自建国起就走的是一条务实的道路,就是简单追求个人富裕幸福,所以个人成功的合力构成了国家的强大。中国人可以办大事,但首先要统一意识。

中国梦是为了民族光荣,美国梦是为了个人荣耀

自鸦片战争以来,领土被侵占,人民被蹂躏,生灵涂炭,民不聊生,一个个丧权辱国的条约,一次次大灾难,这都是民族的创伤。近代史上,多少志士仁人抛头颅洒热血,就是为了民族有尊严,国家有安全,人民可以安居乐业。“今天,我们的人民共和国正以昂扬的姿态屹立在世界东方”,习近平总书记这句话掷地有声。没有这种历史痛的国家是很难理解中国人的这种渴望。美国就没有这种痛,所以它也不会做这种梦,因而,美国梦强调的是个人的富裕、成功和社会地位的提高。

还要明确一点,美国梦经历变革,中国梦也是动态的。随着社会的进步,人们的期望也会改变,梦想也会有所不同。

由以上的分析可知,“中国梦”是根据“中国脚”量身定做的“一双鞋”。生活在中国,就专心做自己的梦,通过实干来实现自己的梦想。

The original Chinese article can be found here.

Translated by Yang Fu.