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  • China Dream Propaganda Art: Creating the Cult of Xi JinpingBrian Hart

    Wake Forest UniversityAbstract

    Since the founding of the Peoples Republic of China in 1949, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) has used publicly displayed propaganda art as a means of maintainingpower. During the early years of the PRC, propaganda posters played a large role in establishing a cult of personality around Mao Zedong. In addition to posters similar tothose of earlier periods, todays propaganda art competes in a media-saturated world by using new mediums such as television, newspapers, and the Internet. Todayspropaganda art exists almost exclusively as part of President Xi Jinpings China Dream () campaign. The China Dream, which Xi coined in 2013, is a nebulousconcept that shares many of the materialistic components of the American Dream, but more importantly emphasizes the return of China as a nation with wealth and power(). China Dream art deviates significantly from Maoist Era posters by heavily incorporating ancient Confucian concepts and images. The art focuses not on communistvalues, but on moralistic ones drawn from the teachings of Confucius. I argue that China Dream art is being used not only to create a new source of legitimacy for theCommunist Party, but also to establish a cult of personality around President Xi Jinping.


    Select cities

    Need variation in population sizes Historical and cultural variation Qufu provided a uniquely small and rural city with a unique cultural and historical significance as the hometown of Confucius

    Select locations within cities

    Universities, tourist attractions, residential areas, and public transportation

    Modes of transportation: on trains, subways, and taxis

    Select mediums

    Posters and billboards Newspapers and magazines TV and online commercials


    Considerable presence of posters and billboards on streets, but not in subway stations

    Greatest number of newspaper advertisementsShenzhen

    Some posters found, but generally clustered in peripheral areas, not in central business and tourist district

    Some presence of very large posters in subway stationsShanghai

    Large presence of posters, particularly in subway stations and around Nanjing University

    No presence in newspapersNanjing

    By far the greatest presence of posters and billboards on streets, but not in subway stationsLimited presence in newspapers


    Very little presence of posters, except for a few large posters near the train station

    China Dream commercials on TV screens at tourist sitesQufu

    Filial piety, the blood of Chinese people Located in Shanghai

    : Be given to doing charitable workLocated in a Nanjing Metro Station

    Funded by a Richter FellowshipSupported by Professor Qiong Zhang of the

    History Department

    Conclusions Several factors determine the prevalence and expression of the

    propaganda art: A citys population size A citys distinctive economic and political characteristics

    There are striking similarities between some China Dream posters and the posters of the Mao era.

    The propaganda art has expanded outside of traditional mediums by infiltrating the internet, music, and television

    The CCP has turned to Confucian concepts and imagery as a means of creating a new source of legitimacy

    Key claims about the effects of the propaganda art: Because Xi Jinping popularized the concept of the China Dream

    and made it the central focus of the CCPs propaganda campaign, the concept itself has become culturally associated with and fixated on Xi Jinping himself.

    This association of the China Dream with Xi Jinping has created a cult of of personality around him that is similar to that of Mao. This has made him into an extremely powerful and idealized figure,