British Journal of Chinese Studies

dragon mural beijing 2018 copyright Gerda Wielander
Vol 11 (2021)

Branding the Chinese Dream: Reception of China’s Public Diplomacy in Britain’s “Cultural China”

Yan Wu
Swansea University
Sian Rees
Swansea University
Richard Thomas
Swansea University
Yakun Yu
Swansea University
Chinese dragon embroidered on cloth
Published June 29, 2021
How to Cite
Wu, Y., Rees, S., Thomas, R., & Yu, Y. (2021). Branding the Chinese Dream: Reception of China’s Public Diplomacy in Britain’s “Cultural China”. British Journal of Chinese Studies, 11, 15-35.


Over four decades, China’s transformed propaganda system has embraced public diplomacy to dispel its perceived “threat.” The most recent strategy has been the branding of the Chinese Dream narrative. Although there has been some academic focus on China’s nation branding, little has been written about its reception by overseas audiences. Accordingly, this article draws on focus-group data and employs Tu Wei-ming’s “cultural China” framework in exploring how the Chinese Dream is received and interpreted in the United Kingdom. This article contributes to understandings of nation branding by recognising how Chinese diaspora communities and British intellectual and professional elites engage with and promote brand values. It argues that the socio-cultural aspect of branding is important for China’s identity and that using the Chinese Dream as a branding narrative is successful when it focuses on cultural and economic messaging but divides opinion when political ideology is used.

Image © Yan Wu

  • the Chinese Dream,
  • public diplomacy,
  • overseas Chinese,
  • cultural China,
  • soft power communication
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