TAIPEI (The China Post/ANN) -- The title of a book by the late American sinologist Benjamin I. Schwartz, "In Search of Wealth and Power," rather accurately sums up the preoccupation of generations of Chinese intellectuals, reformers and revolutionaries in modern times. These men and women, with varying degree of success, sought to stem the tide of imperialist encroachment on China in its struggle for survival in the modern world, principally by unlocking the secret to "wealth and power." A wealthy and strong China, one that is not in danger of being partitioned by the colonial powers, was their dream, one might say.
Chinese President and Communist Party of China General Secretary Xi Jinping also has a dream, one that he elaborated on in a speech titled "The China Dream, The People's Dream," which he delivered March 17 at the Second Plenary Session of the National People's Congress.
"To achieve a comprehensively well-off society, to build a prosperous, strong, democratic, civilized, and harmonious modern socialist country and to attain the Chinese dream of the great renaissance of the Chinese nation is to achieve prosperity, revitalize the nation, and bring about the happiness of the people," Xi said in the speech.
But before that, on Nov. 29, 2012, two weeks after his appointment as the party's general secretary and military commander-in-chief, Xi visited the grandiose National Museum next to Tiananmen Square. During the trip he told reporters and museum workers that the "greatest Chinese dream" was the "great revival of the Chinese nation," according to a commentary in a recent issue of Britain's Economist magazine.
The commentary then elaborated on the symbolism of the setting in which Xi first gave voice to his slogan, concluding that the remarks against such a special backdrop made it clear that he was flexing his muscle as a nationalist and as a party believer.
In line with what previous generations of Chinese intellectuals, statesman, and revolutionaries had to say when the survival of their country, often referred to as the "sick man of the East," was at stake, these remarks could be understood as mere rhetoric intended to score points with Chinese at home and abroad. No threat, if any, was intended.
But now, with a well-equipped and at least numerically formidable army, more money to purchase the latest military hardware, and being on course to become the world's largest economy within decades, if not earlier, China under the leadership of Xi could really have dreams that resonate better with those of its people than such a "wealth and power" dream. In other words, Xi should have dreamed up a more ambitious dream than the so-called "American Dream" of middle-class material comfort for his people.
Now that the "wealth and power" dream is more or less fulfilled, another dream, also American, is recommended if Xi is to achieve greatness and not to remain a run of the mill leader who is more preoccupied with the interests of his kind than those of the common people.
About 50 years ago, in August 1963, Martin Luther King Jr. electrified America with his momentous "I Have a Dream" speech, dramatically delivered from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial.
The key message in the speech is that all people are created equal and that, although not the case in America at the time, King felt this truth must be the basis for American racial relations in the future. And that was his dream, one that has more or less come true in America, if not elsewhere.
But instead of dwelling on a universal value, Xi's main focus seems to be on strengthening the party's absolute claim to power, according to the Economist commentary. Xi has made it clear that he believes the Soviet Union collapsed because the Communist Party there strayed from ideological orthodoxy and rigid discipline.
"The Chinese dream," Xi was quoted as saying, "is an ideal. Communists should have a higher ideal, and that is communism."
It appears that Xi also sets his sights on greatness, though greatness of a different kind than that of Martin Luther King Jr., because unlike King, Xi is a communist.
If so, we must then ask what steps he is prepared to take toward achieving some of the communist ideals, such as "from each according to his ability and to each according to his needs" and proletarian dictatorship, instead of dictatorship by the rich and powerful, now that the party is fast becoming the Bourgeois, if not Capitalist, Party of China.
Mr. Xi, what say you begin by bringing into the political bureau some of the "have-nots?" ___