The Brilliant Story Strategy of Our China Dream


President Xi Jinping is far more brilliant than you realize. He has employed a brilliant story strategy.

As you know, our president understands the power of story…


Xi Jinping’s China is one of grand narratives — the “Chinese Dream”; the One Belt, One Road initiative; and the various foreign-policy stories that China has been telling the world since Xi came to power in 2012. The party is the hero of all these tales, retold at the gatherings of the elite for the plenum each year.

Is China One Step Closer to Having a Supreme Leader?, by Kerry Brown, Foreign Policy, October 31, 2016

Xi Jinping pointed out that, following the development of circumstances, the Party’s news and public opinion work must innovate ideas, content, carriers, forms, methods, means, business models, structures and mechanisms, and strengthen its focus and efficacy. It must suit to the communication trends of audience division and differentiation, and accelerate the building of a new structure for public opinion guidance. It must promote converged development, and actively draw support from new media communication superiorities. We must grasp the opportunities of the times, grasp the rhythm, pay attention to tactics, put forth efforts with regard to timeliness, degree and efficacy, and reflect the demands of timeliness, degree and efficacy. We must strengthen the construction of international communication capabilities, strengthen international discourse power, concentrate on telling China’s story well, and at the same time optimize strategic deployments, and strive to forge foreign propaganda flagship media with relatively strong international influence.

Speech at the News and Public Opinion Work Conference, China Copyright and Media, February 26, 2016

And given the story tension we have – just like our secular story allies have, President Xi Jinping has employed a brilliant strategy.

Our China Dream is a substitute archplot which hides and masks the weak, undefended space of our version of the story we are in.

His substitute archplot of the China Dream may spare the Party from being pushed off the stage of history.

He is so wise!

So, we want the world to see how insightful President Xi truly is.

And we should be grateful to him for seeing that, for the Party to continue to govern the people of China, we need to offer them a substitute archplot.

We need the China Dream.

You see, in 2019, on October 1, the Party will be celebrating the 70th anniversary of our rise to power.

But as we anticipate those wonderful days, we must also recognize that we have a vital undefended space which the great majority of the Party fails to recognize.

Except for President Xi Jinping, of course.

He gets the power of the quest. Consider what he said in this speech…


Right now, the Chinese people are working in unison under the strategic plans to complete the building of a moderately prosperous society in all respects, and to comprehensively deepen reform, advance law-based governance, and enforce strict Party conduct. Our objective is to realize the “two centenary” goals for China’s development and for realizing the Chinese dream of great national rejuvenation.

….

The cause of peace and development of mankind is as lofty as it is challenging. The journey ahead will not be smooth sailing, and success may not come easily. No matter how long and difficult the journey may be, those who work together and never give up will eventually prevail. I believe that as long as we keep to our goals and make hard efforts, we will together bring about a community of common destiny and usher in a new future for Asia.

Keynote Speech by H.E. Xi Jinping, President of the People’s Republic of China, At the Boao Forum for Asia Annual Conference 2015, Boao, 28 March 2015

And he also understands this story danger…


Now Xi Jinping, China’s president, is waging war against “historical nihilism”, a peril as arcane-sounding as it is, to his mind, grave. As a state news agency recently warned, there is a “seething undercurrent” of it in China. Failure to stamp it out, officials say, could lead to Soviet-style collapse.

….

In party-speak, historical nihilism means denying the “inevitability” of China’s march towards socialism (the country is currently deemed only to be in the early stages of it). It is a term that came into vogue among party officials after the crushing of the Tiananmen Square protests in 1989. Jiang Zemin, who was then party chief, declared that historical nihilism was one of several ideological vices that had “seriously eroded” the party. Other, more obvious ones, included yearnings for freedom and democracy. By reviving Mr Jiang’s rhetoric on nihilism, Mr Xi is signalling that the party could again face regime-threatening danger unless it tightens its grip on the way history is told. 

Nihil sine Xi: China is struggling to keep control over its version of the past, The Economist, Oct 29th 2016

And this can help you see our issue…


Seraphim Rose was absolutely correct when he wrote that “the root of the revolution of the modern age is nihilism,” belief in nothing. But nihilism has a very limited market appeal, and primarily to the psychologically imbalanced. [Laughter] The devil does not show up and present himself as the inhypostasization of evil. He shows up as an angel of light. So what we are seeing is nihilism camouflaged in idealism, nothingness camouflaged as the greatest of goods. This is a secular and, I think, demonic caricature and counterfeit of the Christian vision of the eschaton, the Christian vision where there will be true human integration, true human fulfillment.

The Future of Orthodoxy in the Postmodern World: Welcome to the Catacombs, Dr. Clark Carlton, AncientFaith.com, July 31, 2017

And the story power of our Quest also helps shift the focus away from certain realities which put the Party in danger…


Xi insists that the world look at him and the PRC on his terms: as a force to be reckoned with, a growing economic power not to be ignored. This is perhaps Xi’s greatest achievement. Credible economic and foreign-policy analysts have published tracts on “the Chinese Century.” According to this analysis, the Chinese economy either already has taken over as the world’s largest (according to the International Monetary Fund) or will do so soon.

And yet . . . China remains a country riven by fault lines that make all of this impossible. In fact, President Xi’s greatest achievement is his mastery not over reality but over illusion. To create the illusion, Xi forces us to observe the foreground distractions — conspicuous urban wealth, global companies dominating their sectors, the largest banks in the world, military expansion, diplomatic energy.

China’s Xi Jinping, Master Illusionist, By THERESE SHAHEEN, National Review, April 27, 2018

Mao has not lost his iconic status in China. The result is a kind of double-thinkin which past crimes are glossed over for the sake of national continuity.

Still Bowing Down Before Mao, By BENJAMIN SHULL, Wall Street Journal, November 17, 2016

In China, official histories continue to falsify the events of Mao Zedong’s Great Leap Forward, a collectivization campaign that serious scholars rank among the most lethal politically inspired catastrophes of all time, with an estimated 30 million people left dead from famine, forced labor, and other causes. Communist Party officials do not acknowledge anything approaching the full dimensions of the tragedy. Nor have they admitted that the party, and especially Mao, was responsible. Often, they blame the weather.

Chinese leaders may be even more concerned about presenting the “correct” interpretation of history than their Russian counterparts. An updated official version of the party history took 16 years to draft, including four extensive rewrites. In 2013, the General Office of the Communist Party Central Committee issued a secret directive prohibiting universities from permitting the discussion of seven themes—the “Seven Don’t Mentions.” To independently minded scholars, the most disturbing item on the list was the leadership’s mistakes.

While the Chinese authorities have never come close to permitting a serious investigation of either the Great Leap Forward or the subsequent Cultural Revolution, these and other aspects of the party’s past were not considered utterly taboo until recently, as long as the discussion did not lead to serious challenges to orthodox historical interpretations. According to the policies set down under current party leader Xi Jinping, talking in classrooms about Mao’s errors is now forbidden.

Airbrushing Stalin and Mao’s Horrific Crimes, By Arch Puddington, World Affairs Journal

He is so wise!

And we have to be flexible…


But perhaps Orwell’s most valuable observation in this essay concerns instability. “What is new in totalitarianism,” he wrote, “is that its doctrines are not only unchallengeable but also unstable. They have to be accepted on the pain of damnation, but on the other hand, they are always liable to be altered on a moment’s notice.” Orwell had observed the disfavor and disappearance of prominent Bolsheviks and the resulting adjustments to the official narratives of the Revolution—the endlessly changing and vanishing commissars. Arendt argued that the instability was, in fact, the point and purpose of the purges: the power of the regime depended not so much on eliminating particular men at particular moments but on the ability to eliminate any man at any moment. Survival depended on one’s sensitivity to the ever-changing stories and one’s ability to mold oneself to them.

How George Orwell Predicted the Challenge of Writing Today, By Masha Gessen, The New Yorker, June 10, 2018

Because we do have the same raw nerve problem as our secular story allies in America…


One elementary school student confessed he just wanted to be rich to escape the “meaningless of life,” during a public speaking event last weekend in Hangzhou, which is situated in the eastern province of Zhejiang.

Dripping with cynicism, his comments were captured on a smartphone and the video went viral on social media sites before it was blocked, Reuters news agency reported.

“You work hard but only see limited returns, like you’re in an endless loop,” he said. “I want to be rich to overcome the meaninglessness of life. With money, you can do whatever you want.”

Similar to other parts of the world, China is going through a generational identity crisis. Buckling under the pressure of a country obsessed with personal success linked to government-backed economic targets, they are struggling to cope with the rapid changes in society.

“What the boy wants is not just money, but freedom in life, to be able to get rid of the hollowness of life,” one person said on Weibo, the country’s answer to Twitter.

Zen-Generation apathy puts the ‘China Dream’ into context, By GORDON WATTS, Asia Times, MAY 29, 2018

And what President Xi Jinping is doing is not unlike what our secular story allies – or others, throughout history, have done…


But Ken Liu, author of “The Paper Menagerie, The Grace of Kings,” cautioned against the tendency to rely on history to predict the future.

Mankind’s addiction to stories and storytelling is often the reason why it fails to predict the future correctly, Liu said, describing this as a cognitive bias for the species.

“We literally cannot understand the world as it is; we understand the world [by] making a story out of it,” he said. “The universe is irreducibly random, but we cannot seem to accept that, so we have to construct a narrative about why things are happening.”

General: Army Needs More Futurists to Better Predict Conflict, By Matthew Cox, Military.com, December 6, 2017

The question of “materialism” leads to equally ironic consequences in our debate and contest with communism. The communists are consistent philosophical materialists who believe that mind is the fruit of matter; and that culture is the product of economic forces. Perhaps the communists are not as consistently materialistic in the philosophical sense as they pretend to be. For they are too Hegelian to be mechanistic materialists. They have the idea of a “dialectic” or “logic” running through both nature and history which means that a rational structure of meaning runs through the whole of reality. Despite the constant emphasis upon the “dignity of man” in our own liberal culture, its predominant naturalistic bias frequently results in views of human nature in which the dignity of man is not very clear.

It is frequently assumed that human nature can be manipulated by methods analogous to those used in physical nature. Furthermore it is generally taken for granted that the highest ends of life can be fulfilled in man’s historic existence. This confidence makes for utopian visions of historical possibilities on the one hand and for rather materialistic conceptions of human ends on the other. All concepts of immortality are dismissed as the fruit of wishful thinking. This dismissal usually involves indifference toward the tension in human existence, created by the fact that “our reach is beyond our grasp,” and that every sensitive individual has a relation to a structure of meaning which is never fulfilled in the vicissitudes of actual history.

Reinhold Niebuhr, The Irony of American History

And our president is playing the game like Bill Nye the Science Guy…


Bill Nye the Science Guy was also confronted with the question of the meaninglessness of life while discussing the end of the universe in an interview. Someone tweeted the interviewer a comment for Nye: “This is why nobody should care about the future. If everything will cease to exist anyway, then nothing really matters.” Nye’s response was blood curdling, at least to me:

Well, why get up in the morning? Apparently we are driven to live. Everybody works pretty hard for the last breath. If this person is not just being flip and off-handed and has this nihilistic approach, I say donate your car, if you own one, to charity, donate all your stuff to charity, and take the black capsule. And let the rest of us get on with it.

Get on with what? Apparently with a life devoid of purpose we are nonetheless “driven to live.” Those who do not share that drive to stay alive can step aside, and—in Nye’s view-good riddance. But somehow, thankfully, Nye does not really believe what his worldview implies-that human life has no value, meaning, or purpose. He smuggles meaning back into the universe, because he thinks that charity toward our fellow humans has value. If the universe really had no meaning, any nihilist committing suicide might as well shoot up a bunch of people before departing from this world, rather than making donations to charity. Neither action would have any meaning in the final analysis.

Richard Weikart, The Death of Humanity and the Case for Life

And back when he was on our team, Shih Tzu and his team suddenly barged into the room one day when Paula and I were having a discussion about this with the rest of our team.

“I think we need to discuss whether we should send General Tso a memorandum which recommends our government ban the American movie, The Wizard of Oz,” he said.

And his “team within the team” began vigorously nodding their heads in agreement, while also proclaiming in unison, “You’re not in Kansas anymore, Chowbaby!”

So, I asked him what his suggestion could possibly have to do with our mission of exploring the question, “Will the United States Survive Until 2025?”

He smiled, and then said, “But you forget. There is another part to the mission. Our team is uniquely tasked with the responsibility of considering the question in light of the possibility Christianity is the story we are in.”

The puzzled look on my face was shared by the other team members who are still loyal to me.

“I’m sorry, but what is the connection you are seeing?” I asked.

He smiled again.

“As we have all agreed, Comrade Chow, the Christian version of the story we are in is at the top of Robert McKee’s story triangle. It’s archplot. And there is a great distance between our version of the story and theirs, because ours is really an antiplot or maybe even a nonplot,” he said. “Like our story allies in the West, we believe our story begins and ends in nothingness. So here in the middle we must create our own meaning and purpose. But ultimately, since our story begins and ends in nothingness, such efforts are all absurd.”

I nodded my head in agreement, but then countered, “But President Xi is presenting an archplot to our people,” I replied. “That’s what the China Dream is.”

Then I quoted from a speech of his…


Right now, the Chinese people are working in unison under the strategic plans to complete the building of a moderately prosperous society in all respects, and to comprehensively deepen reform, advance law-based governance, and enforce strict Party conduct. Our objective is to realize the “two centenary” goals for China’s development and for realizing the Chinese dream of great national rejuvenation.

….

The cause of peace and development of mankind is as lofty as it is challenging. The journey ahead will not be smooth sailing, and success may not come easily. No matter how long and difficult the journey may be, those who work together and never give up will eventually prevail. I believe that as long as we keep to our goals and make hard efforts, we will together bring about a community of common destiny and usher in a new future for Asia.

Keynote Speech by H.E. Xi Jinping, President of the People’s Republic of China, At the Boao Forum for Asia Annual Conference 2015, Boao, 28 March 2015

“Precisely,” answered Shih Tzu. “But it’s an archplot for this life. And that’s why we must seriously consider whether to make a recommendation to ban this movie. Notice how the famous song Judy Garland sang in, Somewhere Over the Rainbow, is an archplot which implies there may be a happily ever after ending which extends beyond this life.”


He was right.

But if our team began to focus on making such trivial recommendations like banning the famous tornado movie, wouldn’t it appear I had lost focus?

Wouldn’t the serious work we’re trying to do then become infected — even poisoned — by such a perception?

So, what was Shih Tzu aiming at? What did he want? Was he playing me?

Then he continued.

“So the challenge for us is how do we continue to make maximum use of the archplot of our China Dream, while we at the same time hide and mask the story triangle tension our China Dream is creating? Figure that out, you pathetic losers, and I may have mercy on you.”

And with his pronouncement, Shih Tzu and his minions left the room.

I hate Shih Tzu. I do.

But he did raise a legitimate challenge both we and our secular story allies are facing.

How do we hide our undefended space?


By the way, there is another famous scene in the movie which Shih Tzu failed to mention. This is just as dangerous to the Party as Judy Garland’s song. Here is the scene: The Wizard of Oz – Pay No Attention

You understand the power of what is taking place in the scene, right? After the curtain is pulled back, Dorothy asks the simple question: “Who are you?”

And that scene is why we should consider banning this movie in China. The simple question has the potential to bring the Party’s rule to an end in China. It’s the question which can pull the curtain back and reveal our undefended space. It’s also the question which reveals why the United States may not survive. And Donald Trump helped us to see this, because none of his opponents ever asked him the simple, but astonishingly powerful story question… “Who do you believe we are, here in the story? “