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Liu Yang, China's first female astronaut, at the ongoing National People's Congress as a newly elected deputy. Wu Zhiyi / China Daily
Zong Qinghou (above), Wang Tingge (left, above) and Zheng Qiang (left, below). Photos Provided to China Daily
As the new leadership calls on the public to realize its China dream, Wu Jiao, Zhao Shengnan and Hu Haiyan speak to national legislators and political advisers to explore their versions.
While she orbited Earth last year, China's first female astronaut Liu Yang believed she was as close as anyone could get to the China dream. As she attended the country's annual national legislative session as a new deputy, Liu recalled her experiences in space.
"After realizing my dream of space flight, people have asked me about my next dream. I know they expect me to say that my next dream is to land on the moon or Mars," she said. "But while that's understandable, it's really not accurate: My ambition is to be a qualified astronaut who serves my country well."
For Liu, the China dream is one in which all Chinese can achieve their personal ambitions.
"I was born in 1978, at the beginning of China's reform and opening-up era. My family's standard of living has improved steadily over the past 30 years and my life's dream and career path have changed constantly; from dreams of becoming a bus conductor to a lawyer, then a pilot and finally an astronaut. All these changes took place as the country developed and grew stronger, said the 35-year-old member of the People's Liberation Army Air Force.
Liu said achieving her dream of space travel was the result of a great deal of hard work by many people. Similarly, the China dream is interconnected with every person in the world's most-populous country.
She exemplifies a unique version of the China dream. Just as every reader has his or her own understanding of Shakespeare's Hamlet, there are many different dreams, but many people share a common dream.
A dream of respect
For Zong Qinghou, chairman and CEO of the beverage giant Hangzhou Wahaha Group and a deputy to the National People's Congress, a powerful China means a nation that's respected by other countries in all aspects of society, including culture, economic development and politics.
"China was a powerful and strong nation before the latter part of the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911). I strongly believe that the country will regain that kind of status in the future as we stick to the policies of reform and opening-up," said Zong, ranked as the sixth richest person in China in the 2013 Hurun Rich List, with a personal fortune of 82 billion yuan ($13 billion).
He said he won't emigrate because he doesn't speak a foreign language and is unused to the food overseas.
Zong's remarks came in the wake of reports that an increasing number of wealthy Chinese have emigrated to developed countries to provide their children with a better education and a higher standard of living. As one of the country's wealthiest men, Zong has faced constant questioning about whether he has plans to emigrate.
"I love this country and I believe it is getting stronger and stronger through the combined efforts of all the Chinese people," said Zong.
Wang Tingge, chairman of Zhejiang International Trading Group and a national legislator from the affluent province of Zhejiang, said the country should make greater efforts to discourage the wealthy and well educated from flocking abroad.
China has the world's largest number of emigrants, with three-quarters of the 1.07 million who study abroad choosing to remain overseas rather than return to the country of their birth, according to a recent report published by the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences.
Many countries have implemented preferential policies for immigrants to lure talent from across the world, said Wang, who described his China dream as one that is centered on talent. He believes China should consider similar policies, not only to retain homegrown talent but also to attract a greater number of talented or wealthy foreigners and to ensure they want to stay in the country.
Like Zong and Wang, Zheng Qiang, president of Guizhou University in Southwest China, also has a dream for the people, one predicated on confidence in their homeland.
Zheng said his ambition is to help children from the relatively impoverished western region of the country to realize their own dreams, describing his China dream as one based on talent, enabling Chinese people to talk about their hometowns and their culture with confidence.
But this will require the government to be fully aware of the importance of improving the education system in the western regions, he added.
The China dream is not about wealth because people's happiness is not determined by how much money they have, said Zheng, adding that cultural pride and satisfaction are the backbones of people's aspirations.
A dream of equality
For Li Liancheng, a national legislator and also a village official from Puyang city in Central China's Henan province, the China dream is the farmers' dream. Despite accounting for more than 50 percent of the Chinese population, farmers have seen the wealth gap with their urban counterparts growing in recent years.
"If the farmers nationally could lead a wealthier life, the China dream would be realized," said Li.
The central government should attach more importance to farmers' living standards in the process of urbanization, he said, adding that in his dream education, health insurance and pensions for farmers should be equal to those enjoyed by urban residents.
Zhu Liangyu, a migrant worker in Beijing who is employed as a security guard, has a similar, but more detailed, dream of seeking equality with his urban counterparts.
His greatest desire is to see changes to the hukou, China's system of household registration, that would enable migrants from rural areas to enjoy equal rights to public services in the cities and become better integrated so they will no longer be classified as wanderers.
China has more than 230 million migrant workers, roughly 20 percent of the population, according to the National Bureau of Statistics. They are absent from their rural hometowns for the greater part of the year as they attempt to make their living in the cities, working in labor-intensive industries for low wages. Their diligence and cheap labor have been the engines behind the country's rapid economic growth and urbanization during recent decades, leading many economists to refer to migrant workers as the primary drivers of the Chinese economy.
"I hope that in the future the migrant population will enjoy greater stability of life in the cities. Hopefully that would lead to a reduction of 'leftover' elderly people and youngsters, because we will be able to afford to bring our parents and children to stay with us in the cities," said Zhu.
Liu Yonghao (above) and Yang Gang (right). Photos Provided to China Daily
A dream of quality and branding
For Liu Yonghao, president of New Hope Group, China's leading producer of animal feed, a powerful China will come from being the home of leading, world-class businesses, making innovative and advanced products that will gain recognition and respect throughout the world.
"I cherish a dream that China can foster a large number of competitive, leading domestic companies, and New Hope Group is one of them. I also dream of resolving the issue of food security through combined efforts with farmers," said Liu.
"There is still a long way to go before China can produce a lot of world-class enterprises because the competition is fierce, but we are sure that there will be many in the future," said Liu, who has been a member of the National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference for many years and was elected as a deputy to the National People's Congress for the first time this year.
Yang Gang, vice-minister of the top watchdog, the State Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine, and also a member of the CPPCC, shares Liu's dream of quality and world-famous brands. He said a strong country is one that produces high-quality products, because the strongest countries are always those that cherish these ideals. Without them, no country can be truly strong, he said.
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A dream of cleaner air and safer food
For Zhang Jiyao, a member of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference, a strong country means not only economic strength, but also a happier life and a cleaner environment.
The price of economic development has been high in terms of environmental degradation. That means the government should increase its efforts to safeguard the environment while pursuing the China dream. We have to make the country's sky bluer, the waters cleaner and the mountains greener, and ensure that children live happier lives, he said.
However, Zhang anticipated hardships in realizing his dream, because the problems are now overwhelming.
Local governments are obsessed with the pursuit of GDP growth and the overall awareness of environmental issues is still inadequate, he said.
"They always put a priority on economic development if they are caught in a dilemma between economic growth and the cost of environmental protection," said Zhang.
To resolve the situation, the country must raise its environmental protection criteria and improve law enforcement in the sector, while increasing input in the environmental field, according to Zhang.
Li Wei, a national legislator who is also chief of China's leading food company, Sinian Food Co, said the China dream should revolve around a domestic food industry that emphasizes safety, freshness, trust and high quality.
If that were to happen, Chinese-made baby formula and other foods would be the people's first choice, he said.
Li made the remarks against the backdrop of a slew of food scandals, including substandard baby formula and tainted milk, that have shocked the country. Many mainlanders have flocked to buy foreign-made baby formula in places such as Hong Kong, which has helped to push up the price of the formula. In response, Hong Kong has imposed a two-tin limit on the amount of baby formula mainlanders are allowed to take out of the city.
To ensure food safety, Li proposed the establishment of a surveillance system in which those in charge of product quality should maintain that responsibility throughout their lives.
(China Daily 03/12/2013 page7)