What Is the Chinese Dream?

Forbes: Helen H. Wang

In an event in Silicon Valley, someone asked me: “In one sentence or two, would you tell me what is the Chinese dream?” (as he learned I wrote a book called The Chinese Dream).

A simple question, but no simple answers.

When I left China 20 years ago, there was no Chinese dream. I had to leave my country and come to America to pursue my dream of a better future. But today, many young people in China can start their own business and have a lot more opportunities. Even many of my American friends are going to China because of the tremendous opportunities presented there.

As a Chinese magazine editor told me bluntly, “The Chinese Dream is a copy of the American Dream.”

Many middle class Chinese are influenced by the American way of life. They are bombarded by many material temptations and proliferating choices. TV commercials, the Internet, and Hollywood movies give them a rosy picture of the American middle class.

One Chinese blog described it this way: “American middle class people live in a villa with a two-car garage in the suburbs. In front of the house, there is a green lawn. They have 2-3 children, and a dog. The husband goes out to work, and the wife stays at home taking care of the children. On weekends, they drive their SUVs to the countryside for barbecues and camping.”

That is the picture in most Chinese people’s minds of “the American Dream”— owning a big house, driving a nice car, and having a comfortable life. The Chinese middle class wants it all. Continue reading

21 years after Tiananmen Square, will the Chinese middle class push for democracy?

Twenty-one years ago, thousands of Chinese students gathered at Tiananmen Square demanding more democracy. The world still remembers the stunning image of a lone student standing in front of armed tanks in an attempt to block the tanks from entering into the Square.

At the time, I had just arrived in the United States as a student and watched the entire demonstration on TV. Like other Chinese students in the U. S., I protested with them on the streets and wept with them when the crackeddown came.

Twenty-one years later, China has changed to a very different country. Today’s new middle class Chinese have little in common with the idealistic students. They are the beneficiaries of China’s economic reform. Most of them approve what the government has done. They are all busy trying to keep up with the swirling changes. Continue reading