This week's round-up of Good Reads includes a vague dream for the Chinese, the Boston bombers' connection to radical Islam, why Obama has been so slow to respond to Syria's civil war, levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere not seen since the Pliocene era, and a new keyboard configuration for mobile phones.
Graeme Roy/The Canadian Press/AP
A nation confidently on its way to becoming the biggest economy in the world ought to be chasing its own special dreams. So Chinese Communist Party General Secretary Xi Jinping has taken on promoting “the Chinese dream” as his personal motto, and the Chinese character for “dream” has been declared the “character of the year” in China. But what do Chinese think about when they dream? In “Chasing the Chinese dream,” The Economist points out the term’s vagueness is both an advantage and a difficulty, a meme able to be fitted to many goals. Militarists see it as more than just an “American dream” of middle-class prosperity; it’s their dream of a powerful China preeminent on the world stage. Democratic reformers see a move toward Western-style personal and political freedoms. US Secretary of State John Kerry recently tried to lasso the term in the service of better Sino-American relations, proposing that Chinese and American dreams merge into a vision of a “Pacific Dream” that the two nations pursue together. But where it’s all headed is uncertain: When a people are allowed, even encouraged, to “dream,” the process may set off a series of unintended consequences.
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