Metaphors of a Metaphor
The Rhetoric of the “Chinese Dream”
Following the profound changes in the Chinese socio-economic structure in the Post-Mao era (1976-), Chinese political language is also undergoing rapid changes – it is becoming more abstract and depoliticised. Alongside the Marxist-Leninist rhetoric, political language has enhanced its power by using concepts and linguistic forms which belong to traditional Chinese culture. The ‘Chinese dream’, the concept fostered by the current Chinese leadership, is a clear expression of this trend. In the view of the fifth generation of Chinese leaders, with president Xi Jinping at its ‘core’, the ‘Chinese dream’ is a grand process of ‘national renaissance’ following a century of ‘humiliation’ at the hands of the West and Japan, and is about to be realized. From this perspective, it is shared by all Chinese people and it will satisfy the dreams of all Chinese. But what exactly does this ‘common Chinese dream’ mean, and what does the metaphor of the dream obscure? In order to answer these questions and scrutinise the ideology which upholds Chinese political discourse, one of the most interesting levels of analysis is that of its figurative language, particularly metaphor. In light of Lakoff and Johnson’s (1980) important contribution, the analysis of the meaning of the ‘Chinese dream’ is conducted through the examination and interpretation of the conceptual metaphors as used by Xi Jinping in two of his speeches, where he explains this concept. Metaphor is one of the most powerful persuasive means used by politicians, hence, its analysis is a useful tool for discovering and understanding the current Chinese leadership’s rhetoric strategy and its principal goals.