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Historical Discourses and the China Dream

According to Van der Veer, in the past there is a strong sense that Chinese traditional culture was a feudalistic residue that was perceived as being a source of weakness in China and thus had to be eradicated by Marxism (2009: 1114). This marginalization of Chinese traditional culture has the consequence of the internalization of three world orientations introduced from the modern West: (1) a century of Western missionary contempt for Chinese “idol worship” and “superstitions,” (2) a sense of the superiority of science and modern rationality in the nationalist cause of China’s self-development and (3) social evolutionist doctrines that arranged different cultures and religious systems of the world into a hierarchical progression whose teleological end was Western-style civilization (Yang 2008: 1-2).

In the next section, we will examine the emergence of the China Dream discourse and the various historical-cultural discourses that have been coopted and reconfigured in this discourse. As we will show, with the China Dream discourse, the Party first envisioned a prosperous and strong country by advocating the glorious past of China as an “ideal” (the good old days); however, they also dramatized past humiliations at the hands of others (the bad old days). The Party then employed various traditional cultural resources to mobilize support from people in the name of leading them to the fulfilment of the China Dream.

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