The China Dream


The "China dream," declared  President Xi,  "is a dream of rejuvenation." It is a dream in four parts: Strong China, economically and militarily; Civilized China, with rich culture and high morals; Harmonious China; and Beautiful China. 

But can China create a new sustainable reality based on its ancient values of respect for culture, family, and nature - by harnessing technology? Or must the China Dream rely on the manipulation of patriotism and the power of an authoritarian state?


The China Dream, from October 25 - November 25, 2018, includes:

Thursday evening talks:

  • October 25 – Xi Jinping and His Party - Many observers consider President Xi the new emperor of China and compare his power to that of Mao. His father, a revolutionary fighter and close advisor to Mao, was subsequently purged from leadership. What are the lessons of history? Juan Wang of McGill University talks about the rise of Xi and his agenda for the Communist Party and China. This event is supported by a donation from Monica Sheridan.

  • November 1 – A Not so Delicate Balance - China under Xi Jinping has developed unrivalled international trade opportunities, become the world’s banker and a leader in cyber security. But ambitious foreign policy requires a stable country with strong domestic controls - including electronic surveillance and labour standards and human rights violations that make western nations uncomfortable. Guy Saint-Jacques, Canada’s Ambassador to China from 2012-2016, discusses the new China and the implications for Canada. (Listen to Ambassador Saint-Jacques on a recent episode of The Current.) This event is supported by a donation from The Mac and Sally Bradden Foundation, with accommodation provided by Woodlawn Inn.

  • November 8 – Money, morality, and China's new rich - In just two decades, China went from being one of the most equal societies in the world to one of the most unequal. Who exactly are China's new rich, and how are success and status being redefined? John Osburg of University of Rochester examines the social, moral, and spiritual impacts of the largest economic boom in human history. This event is sponsored by Julie Parker & Tracey Sweeney Schenk, Salespersons, Royal Service Real Estate Inc. Brokerage, 905-885-7627

  • November 15 – What are human rights in China? - China is often criticized for its abuse of human rights, but what this means in the Chinese context remains a puzzle for both Chinese citizens and outside observers. Sida Liu of University of Toronto traces the history of human rights in China since 1949 and discusses how this concept is interpreted by the Chinese party-state and contested by activists and the general public in everyday struggles.

  • November 22 – The Big Picture: Contemporary Chinese Art and Its Dissidents - Chinese artists are either seen as activists standing up to an authoritarian government, or opportunists complying with market demands. Yi Gu of University of Toronto discusses the many stages and faces of contemporary Chinese art, which changed greatly from its inception in the early 1980s and continues to evolve in unexpected directions. This event is supported by a donation from Grant Jameson & Joe Friday. 

Friday morning discussions at the Port Hope Public Library: up close and personal with our speakers:

  • October 26 – Migrant Workers and Minorities – China has 250 million domestic migrant workers who have moved from rural areas to the cities, and 100 million ethnic minorities. This leads to social and political instability and a problem for the Chinese government. Juan Wang of McGill University discusses the dilemma the government faces in managing these two population groups.

  • November 2 - Is there any chance for a “green China”? - China's rapid economic development has led to huge problems in air, water, and soil pollution; loss of farmland; and impacts on health. How is the government dealing with environmental issues? What happens when citizens go out into the streets to protest? Graeme Lang of City University of Hong Kong looks at the problems and the struggles, and makes some predictions about the future.

  • November 9 - Gender inequality and "leftover women" in China - China is home to more self-made female billionaires than any other country. Yet beyond the catchy headlines, John Osburg of the University of Rochester explains, the social and economic gains made by women in post-Mao China have been accompanied by new forms of discrimination and inequality.

  • November 16 – Advocates and Suspects - In 2015, China rounded up more than 200 activist lawyers. They have been described in Chinese state media as troublemakers and part of a "major criminal gang." Some face serious charges of subverting state power. Sida Liu of the University of Toronto explores the work and life stories of those lawyers, and the politics of crime and punishment in China.

  • November 23 The Beautiful Countryside – The past five years have witnessed a rural revival movement known as “the Beautiful Countryside,” initially launched by the Xi regime and quickly embraced by architects, artists, and public intellectuals. Yi Gu of the University of Toronto examines how the campaign has led to heated debates on what “beauty” means not only in rural China, but in our environmentally endangered world in general.


  • SUNDAY OCTOBER 28 -Shanghai Dim Sum - Board the NLC bus for Markham. Enjoy a Shanghai Dim Sum meal, learn about Chinese food and much more! (lunch price extra). Bus meets at 10 AM at the commuter Park ‘n Fly public parking lot on Toronto Road, just south of Hwy 401 at exit 461, near the water tower.

  • SUNDAY NOVEMBER 4: So you want to play the Urhu? - Members of the Toronto Chinese Orchestra, currently celebrating its 25th anniversary, introduce us to traditional Chinese instruments and play short selections of classical and contemporary Chinese music.

2 pm at William Academy, 135 King St W, Cobourg

  • SUNDAY NOVEMBER 25: Everyday Life in China – a panel of recent immigrants from China talk about their school lives and family lives in China; the impact of the One Child Policy; growing domestic surveillance; and much more. Moderated by Karin Wells.

2 pm at William Academy, 135 King St W, Cobourg


Tickets $10 each available at The Loft, 201 Division St, Cobourg


Tuesday, Nov 6 at 7 PM

Last Train Home (2009) Director - Lixin Fan

A couple embarks on a journey home for Chinese new year along with 130 million other migrant workers, to reunite with their children and struggle for a future. Their unseen story plays out as China soars towards being a world superpower. Winner of numerous international documentary film awards including Emmy, Genie and International Documentary Festival of Amsterdam. 

Tuesday, Nov 13 at 7 pm

Coming Home (2015) Director - Yimou Zhang

Lu Yanshi (Chen Daoming) and Feng Wanyu (Gong Li) are a devoted couple forced to separate when Lu is arrested and sent to a labor camp as a political prisoner, just as his wife is injured in an accident. Released during the last days of the Cultural Revolution, he finally returns home only to find that his beloved wife has amnesia and remembers little of her past. Unable to recognize Lu, she patiently waits for her husband's return. 

Tuesday, Nov 20 at 7 pm

Farewell, My Concubine (1994) Director Chen Kaige

One of the central works of the Fifth Generation movement that brought Chinese film directors to world attention. Farewell, My Concubine dramatizes China's political turmoil during the mid-20th century on the lives of two male stars in a Peking opera troupe and the woman who comes between them. Winner of the 1994 Cannes Palme d'Or, and the BAFTA and Golden Globe Awards for Best Film Not in the English Language.

Elizabeth Ivory