Opinion / Op-Ed Contributors

Chinese, American, or Pacific Dream

By Patrick Mendis and Gary Schwarz (China Daily) Updated: 2014-11-13 07:50

Unlike the American Dream, the millennia-old Confucian culture and civilizational identity have been embedded into Xi's policy for national rejuvenation. With this policy initiative, Xi envisions a modernized China that is increasingly becoming a "moderately developed" middle-class society by 2021 when the country will celebrate the centennial of the Communist Party of China, and a "fully developed" nation by 2049 when it observes 100th anniversary of the founding of the People's Republic of China.

The grand strategy for the overall Chinese Dream is trade. Xi highlighted his vision of connectivity, integration and prosperity as he addressed the gathering of CEOs of the Asia-Pacific corporate sector. The US is negotiating its Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement with countries such as Australia, the Republic of Korea and other APEC members. It seems that overlapping and competing trade regimes are slowly emerging that call for more integration.

Obama reiterated that trade is not a "zero-sum-game" and envisioned a strong, stable and prosperous China. This is a win-win proposition for China-US relations as the US was born with a "commerce clause" in the Constitution. Jefferson reminded his posterity: "Commerce with all nations, alliance with none, should be our motto." This sounds more like China's foreign policy of non-interference to achieve a shared vision through trade and commerce, from which a gamut of new dynamics would emerge in the Asia-Pacific region. It is neither an American Dream nor a Chinese Dream but a Pacific Dream.

The American vision - whether it is a dream, a strategy or a plan - began with "China trade" in the 18th century until the first Opium War. With destiny or political will, the revival of the long forgotten China-US bilateral relations has mysteriously brought Obama and Xi together to share a vision of the Pacific Dream. It is idealism in action for economic growth, job creation and regional peace. Here, it is worth remembering the wisdom of Zhou Enlai.

Patrick Mendis is the author of Peaceful War: How the Chinese Dream and the American Destiny Create a Pacific New World Order. Gary Schwarz is a faculty member at the Nottingham University Business School China. Both are alumni of the Harvard Kennedy School of Government.

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