British prime minister borrows Xi Jinping’s language
On October 5, British Prime Minister Theresa May gave a speech at a conference of her Conservative Party. CNN called it a “nightmare.” May was interrupted by a prankster, she had long fits of coughing, and then the stage set behind her failed: Lettering glued onto the backdrop, which read “BUILDING A COUNTRY THAT WORKS FOR EVERYONE,” stopped working as the F fell from FOR.
Aside from the theatrics, there was another signal that the Guardian says observers in China picked up on: May’s use of the phrase “the British Dream.” “It might have left some British voters mystified,” the article says, adding that her words sounded “strangely familiar” in Xi Jinping’s China:
- “The Chinese Dream” (中国梦 zhōngguó mèng) is a phrase popularized by Xi Jinping 习近平 in 2013. It is billed as a Chinese alternative to “the American Dream,” defined by the state-run China Daily as “to build a moderately prosperous society and realize national rejuvenation.” Some attribute the phrase to a column (paywall) by Thomas Friedman, titled “China needs its own dream.”
- The Guardian quotes one internet commenter saying that May’s use of the phrase “the British Dream” shows the “‘Chinese dream’ has global influence,” and mentions another calling her “a plagiarist — shameless.”
- Aside from the phrase “the British Dream,” the Guardian says that “parts of May’s lecture could have been lifted directly from Xi’s turgid 515-page tome of speeches, The Governance of China.”
- Also — in the Financial Times: Chinese navy visits London in show of power and persuasion (paywall).
- Finally — on CNBC: China’s holiday week boosts London as tourists cash in on weak pound.
A lot changes in 100 years. In 1917, Britannia ruled the waves and the sun did not set on her empire, while China was reeling from the collapse of the Qing dynasty and lurching into a half century of war, famine, and chaos.
Now Britain is borrowing not only money but also ideas from China.