But before we start mulling over what "The China Dream" may or may not really mean, it's worth taking a step back and comparing it to the slogans of Xi Jinping's three most recent predecessors. So without further ado, here is a brief (if not totally comprehensive) history of recent Chinese government slogans:
Slogan: "Socialism with Chinese characteristics"
Leader: Deng Xiaoping
Year : 1978
Deng Xiaoping, who emerged as China's maximum leader in 1978, is credited with launching the economic reforms that transformed China from a backwater into a global power in less than three decades. In the process, the blunt, diminutive leader unleashed a series of memorable lines, including "it is glorious to get rich" and "it does not matter if a cat is black or white so long as it catches mice".
But surely, Deng's most important contribution to China's official nomenclature is this wonderful phrase: "Socialism with Chinese characteristics". When he decided to liberalize the economy, the Chinese leadership faced a vexing dilemma: how to square official Communism with a decidedly capitalistic economy. The answer, "with Chinese characteristics" answered that question: Communism is whatever the Chinese said it was. And hey -- you can't say it hasn't worked, can you?
Slogan: "The Three Represents"
Leader: Jiang Zemin
Deng's successor, Jiang Zemin, waited until near the end of his dozen-plus years in office to offer his very own slogan which, actually, isn't really a slogan so much as a governing philosophy. "The Three Represents" (it doesn't make much more sense in Chinese, if you were wondering) means that the Communist Party should represent three things: the development trend of China's governing forces, the progressive course of China's advanced culture, and the fundamental interests of the majority.
What this means was this: after decades as a "revolutionary" force organized around the concept of class struggle and other Marxist bromides, the Chinese Communist Party was evolving into something somewhat more ordinary: the government of the People's Republic of China. Around the same time, in a nod to the changing composition of China's population, Jiang made waves by allowing business people (read: capitalists) to become Communist Party members for the first time. So in effect, "The Three Represents" signaled to the Chinese people that their government was about to become normal which, in China up to that point, wasn't normal at all.
Slogan: "Harmonious Society"
Leader: Hu Jintao
Given his colorless, dry nature, it's hard to believe that Hu Jintao was capable of coining a slogan at all. But in 2005, around when he (finally) consolidated full power of China's government, Hu unleashed this beauty, designed as a way to put a lid on the simmering discontent in China.