Tom Friedman, the New York Times’ worst columnist except for all the others, may have inspired Xi Jinping’s ‘Chinese Dream’, according to the Economist.
Coining an uninspiring, ill-defined slogan is a rite of passage for Chinese leaders. Unlike his predecessors’ attempts however, Xi’s ‘Chinese Dream’ actually had something approaching character to it, albeit a vapid, banal one. Could this be because the ‘Dream’ was inspired by the king of vapid banality, Tom Friedman?
Last October, in the run up to Mr Xi’s ascension, the Times ran a column by Thomas Friedman entitled “China Needs Its Own Dream”. Mr Friedman said that if Mr Xi’s dream for China’s emerging middle-class was just like the American dream (“a big car, a big house and Big Macs for all”) then “another planet” would be needed. Instead he urged Mr Xi to come up with “a new Chinese dream that marries people’s expectations of prosperity with a more sustainable China.” China’s biggest-circulation newspaper, Reference News, ran a translation.
According to Xinhua, a government news agency, the Chinese dream “suddenly became a hot topic among commentators at home and abroad”. When Mr Xi began to use the phrase, Globe, a magazine published by Xinhua, called Mr Xi’s Chinese-dream idea “the best response to Friedman”.
Friedman, a “national embarrassment” who has been writing the same column for years, has always been a favourite of plutocrats who prefer to think of the world in simple platitudes (preferably ones that can be explained using an anecdote about a taxi driver), so it’s only fitting that Xi would also be a fan.
Expect pronouncements from China’s president to start referencing his ‘gut feeling’, roadmaps, globalisation,