Below is the new Foreword by Lord Wei:
Helen Wang’s book represents a powerful contribution to a timely debate about China’s role in the world and how changes wrought by her rising middle class will affect us all. In the past the Chinese Dream spoke of centuries of innovation that have given us gunpowder, beautiful ceramics, and gigantic monuments that speak of the Middle Kingdom’s civilization, inventiveness and its ability to organize its affairs over a vast land mass and population covering many millions.
The Chinese Dream today as portrayed in Helen’s book speaks of a changing China that is discovering consumerism, that is increasingly globalised, and also at a crossroads. Will her path in years to come continue to be one that resembles that of Western countries with all the benefits of further urbanization, wealth, and industrialization, but at the same time challenges in managing scarce resources, population migration, and the social problems that affluence can bring, elsewhere called ‘Affluenza’? Or will the Chinese people themselves inside and outside China create a new sustainable Chinese Dream, based on their ancient values of respect for culture, family, and nature, harnessing technology and creativity?
Only time will tell, but Helen’s book gives insights into how middle class Chinese consumers are thinking, what they are buying, and the lifestyle pressures they are facing which hints at the possible paths ahead. Over time the symbols of the Chinese Dream will emerge, just as red pillar boxes and the English countryside did for the British Dream in the 19th century and white picket fences and jeans have for the American Dream in the 20th century. The enduring symbols of the Chinese Dream are being invented at this very moment in time.
Above all, and whichever Dream emerges, Helen’s book is a reminder of how China’s destiny and that of the rest of the world are now inextricably linked, in a Oneness, that can no longer be ignored. To act in ignorance of this interdependence could tear the world apart; embracing it on the other hand may provide a way out of the many challenges we face in the early 21st century. If Chinese and non-Chinese can build on their mutual strengths and come up with innovative solutions that bring together the best of the East and the West then we will all increasingly benefit from the Chinese Dream.
Lord Wei of Shoreditch
- My Interview on CNNMoney (helenhwang.net)
- “The Chinese Dream” wins First Horizon Award – Helen Wang (chinaherald.net)