Video: James Fallows on the 'Chinese Dream' vs. the 'American Dream'

"For the moment, the only Chinese dream that mattered was the accumulation of individual dreams," journalist James Fallows said at Asia Society Studios in New York recently. Fallows explained that while the American Dream is an idea that the individual can make tangible, such as having a bigger house or a new lawn mower, the Chinese have "been through so much hardship and privation that the simple comforts of being able to educate your children or being able to see the older generation age in relative security ... that is the dream."

Answering a separate question, Fallows added that as Chinese dissident Chen Guangcheng settles into life in the U.S., he must figure a way to reconcile his political passion with his new geographical displacement. Fallows believes that any dissident that leaves his or her homeland is sure to experience "diminished influence."

"I think it is a difficult choice for Mr. Chen and his family — they personally are better off being outside of China, and now the question will be how the causes he cared about in China can be maintained," Fallows said.

This post originally appeared on Asia Blog.