Well clearly the etching moment of The Hobbit was no other than Smaug himself. Smaug the dragon. A dragon with a huge hoard of gold.
Funny that although European culture seems to be more prone to incorporate dragons inside stories or bravery acts compared to Oriental, the dragon itself isn't a symbol you would find in Europe (I could only think of Wales).
The dragon symbolizes the Chinese so perfectly even in modern days.
A dragon is a heavenly creature. Among the 12 zodiacs, it is considered the mythical one (other zodiacs are actual living creatures you can find on Earth).
The mythical and heavenly status of a dragon puts it in a higher tier. Translated in us as a pride in ourselves. That level of imperialism that we are a better race. It is true that Chinese have a very strong sense of pride (Yes Caucasians, sometimes egoistic would be a better word to be used on us).
A dragon also symbolizes wealth and abundance. Dragon are often illustrated in vibrant colors in the Oriental world. But one color that really goes well with the dragon and our preference is none other than the color GOLD.
Coincidentally in European folklore, dragons are gold hoarders (yes it does applies to us Chinese as well). And you have Beowulf, St. George both related to dragon slaying. Even in the modern world we know that the US is having a hard time keeping the dragon which has woke up from its slumber.
Speaking of gold hoarding, we stinge on practically EVERYTHING! But when it comes to branded goods, my god even with our ever inferior currency, we bring European designer brands down to their knees. Our buying power is second to none. And our wealth never dwindles.
So as much as we have molded ourselves as a descendants of The Dragon, we may in fact realize that in other people's point of view, we are indeed a terrible beast.
Is it a pride or does pride comes before fall? Are we the dragon that reigns supreme or waiting to be slayed? Food for thought.