'Chinese Dream' trumps the constitution, says Communist Party paper

PUBLISHED : Friday, 14 June, 2013, 4:18pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 29 August, 2013, 4:13am

Conservatives within the Communist Party continue their campaign against calls for liberal reforms in China in yet another strongly worded magazine editorial on President Xi Jinping's trademark propaganda slogan, the Chinese Dream. 

"Different countries have different dreams," writes Yu Zhong, director and professor at the School of Law at Capital University of Economics and Business in Beijing, in the Red Flag magazine, a bi-weekly party publication on Friday.

The Chinese Dream, as an alternative to the American Dream, is a propaganda slogan first proclaimed by Xi while visiting the National Museum in Beijing on November 29 last year.

The People's Daily and other state-run publications have picked up on the slogan and pointed to China's unique development model and the country's incompatibility with Western values.

But the slogan was also quickly turned around by human rights activists, who argued that they had a Dream of Constitutionalism, in which the Chinese government respected basic rights guaranteed by the Chinese constitution such as freedom of speech and assembly.

The debate about dreams had escalated when in January journalists of one of China's most respected newspapers, Southern Weekly, went to the streets of Guangzhou to protest against the censoring of a call for "constitutionalism" in their New Year's editorial.  

Yu argues that these demands were misguided, because "the Chinese Dream is bigger than the Dream of Constitutionalism".

Whereas a constitution can only reflect one political system at a certain stage of development, the Chinese Dream reflected much more - the "great renaissance of the Chinese nation".

"A basic premise for the understanding the Chinese Dream is cultural self-confidence," he writes in perfect party orthodoxy. "The 'macro history' of China's culture can be testament for confidence in the Chinese Dream," he writes.

Yu links Xi Jinping's slogan to pre-historic Chinese mythology, the philosopher Confucius, the introduction of Buddhism to China, the late Qing-dynasty scholar Liang Qichao and the founder of the Chinese republic, Sun Yat-sen.

"I think these hardline voices are the iceberg tips of an ongoing internal debate over the future of reforms in China," said David Bandurski, a researcher at the University of Hong Kong's China Media Project.

"The recent spate of articles in Red Flag and other party media attacking the idea of constitutionalism speaks to a deep concern in some official circles over demands for greater rights and freedoms", he said adding that these could "potentially pose a challenge to vested interests in the leadership."