Dream of the dragon

Master of Arts in Political Science student Adam Osborne-Smith is sifting the truth from the spin in Chinese state media.

Adam Osbourne-Smith, Master of Arts in Political Science student

China is growing not just economically but into our lives. My research titled “The Dream of the Dragon: A Content Analysis of Xi Jinping’s China Dream” seeks to understand how China projects itself on the world stage.

What fears and hopes does it project through its own state media? How does China frame its own objectives and goals? As an emerging global power much optimism, derision—and fear—has been generated by these questions.

A shifting message

China has appeared to move away from 1980s paramount leader Deng Xiaoping’s mantra of “hide your strength, bide your time” to be a world leader in a number of areas from environmental issues through to championing global trade. So far, there is a shift happening and China has become more assertive, but there’s no clear picture of the direction they are going.

The central aim of my thesis research is to work out how China phrases its intentions as a growing power through state media. See what it says, then see what it does.

I've found that nothing can be taken at face value, and part of my research is trying to distil truth from publications like Xinhua that are required to rigidly stay on message by the central government.

In the world

One of the best things about studying China is the opportunities it generates. I love politics. China is fascinating. Three months prior to beginning my thesis, I was in Beijing on a trip to aid my research. Study in this area changes you fundamentally as a person—as the only way to better understand China is to live it.

My supervisor Jason Young is an experienced sinologist (scholar in Chinese language and culture) who has carried out extensive field research. Jason was instrumental in supporting my travels and my own research.


I want to be a specialist in China studies. Part of this will involve living there, pursuing a greater understanding of Mandarin, and a lifetime of learning. It is crucial that New Zealanders engage with China as it engages more with our country. The United States had a dream that captured millions–I expect China’s to be no less interesting.