ICS Occasional Papers

Shenme shi Zhongguo meng? (什么是中国梦?): Memory, Foreglimpse and Propaganda in the Chinese Dream

The Chinese Dream has become the signature formulation (提法) of the Xi Jinping era, dominating every aspect of propaganda in contemporary China. Official discourse defines the Chinese Dream as encompassing three broad goals: Prosperous and strong country, National rejuvenation, and People’s happiness. However, a look at visual propaganda, and particularly posters, reveal the multi-layered and multifaceted nature of the concept, traversing both past and future. This paper seeks to understand the Chinese Dream through a detailed investigation of textual discourse and thematic visual analysis of State-released propaganda posters using a Cultural Semiotic approach. The paper concludes that the Chinese Dream can be understood as a dynamic set of responses that the leadership under Xi Jinping envisages to counter the emerging challenges to the Party’s legitimacy. The abstractness of the three defined goals does not just bind the Chinese collective together as the success of the nation is directly linked to that of the individuals but also presents a latitude wide enough to leave much space for new ideas favourable to the regime to be accommodated, assimilated and enforced on the citizens. This way, the visual propaganda of the Chinese Dream reflects how the Communist Party of China understands China’s history and perceives its future role while simultaneously building individual subjectivities to attain the aforementioned goals.

Keywords: Chinese Dream, Xi Jinping, Socialism, Propaganda, Cultural Semiotics, Propaganda posters.



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