Archive for September 24th, 2010

Friday, September 24, 2010

Phrasebook: as Different as Jing and Wei

Phonetic transcription: jīng wèi fēn míng

An encyclopedic explanation:

泾渭分明是一个成语,源自一大自然景观。渭河是黄河的最大支流,泾河又是渭河的最大支流,泾河和渭河在古城西安北郊交汇时,由于含沙量不同,呈现出一清一 浊,清水浊水同流一河互不相融的奇特景观,形成了一道非常明显的界限,成为关中八景之一而闻名天下。后人就用泾河之水流入渭河时清浊不混来比喻界限清楚或 是非分明,也用来比喻人品的清浊,比喻对待同一事物表现出来的两种截然不同的态度。

As clearly different as Jing and Wei is a proverb, based on a natural landscape. The Wei river is the Yellow River’s biggest tributary. The Jing river in turn is the Wei river’s biggest tributary. The place where the Jing and Wei river converge, at the northern suburbs of the ancient city of Xi’an, they are taking on both clear and muddy patches, because of the different quantities of sands they carry, the scene of their waters that don’t blend together, instead featuring obvious boundaries between each other, makes their junction one of the Eight Scenic Spots of the Guanzhong Plain, and known all over the world. Later generations applied the anology of the two rivers’ unmixing waters to (the ideas) of clear boundaries or on unclear distinctions, but also to the moral qualities of people, or to two sharply different behaviors in treatment of identical things.

Baidu Baike

An example of how As different as Jing and Wei is used as a referral to different moral qualities of people can be found in the following translation exercise. The translation is a fable, about the fisherman and the demon (or about Understanding the Devil / Giving the Devil his Due):

一位渔夫从大海里捞上来一只密封的瓶子, 他打开了瓶口,瓶子中冒出了魔鬼。魔鬼不但不思报恩,却扬言杀死渔夫……当然,聪明的渔夫并没有死,他机智地使魔鬼重新回到了瓶中,又将瓶子投回了大海。
与几乎所有的寓言都教导我们弃恶从善的人生道理一样,善良的渔夫及他的聪明和残忍的魔鬼及他的愚蠢在故事中泾渭分明,一目了然。

A fisherman pulled a sealed bottle from the sea and when he opened it, a demon came out of it. The demon not only refused to repay the fisherman’s kindness, but instead threatened to kill him. Of course, the intelligent fisherman didn’t die, but ingeniously made the demon get back into the bottle, then throwing it back into the sea.
Same as most other fables, this one teaches  to abandon evil for the principle of goodness. The good fisherman with his cleverness, and the brutal demon in his stupidity are as clearly distinct in this story at one glance, as are Jing and Wei.

College English Translation Course, Heilongjiang People’s Publishing House, July 2006

Previous Phrasebook Entry: zhū bā jiè dào dǎ yī pá, June 17, 2010
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Related
Can you Speak Zhongwen, 活龍翻译博客, comments, September 2010

Friday, September 24, 2010

Japan to release Zhan Qixiong

Japan is to release Zhan Qixiong, a Chinese fishing boat captain from Shandong Province who had been under arrest for two weeks, accused of deliberately ramming two Japanese patrol vessels near the Senkaku Islands, reports the BBC.

Roland Buerk, the BBC´s correspondent in Tokyo, writes that

Japan’s government is looking in to reports that China stopped shipments to Japan of rare earths – elements in which it has a near monopoly vital for the manufacture of hi-tech goods like electric cars.

Meantime, four Japanese men are reportedly being held in China, on suspicion of illegally filming in a military area.

Friday, September 24, 2010

What is China Thinking?

I think U.S. officials, pundits, and academics sometimes give China too much credit for far-sighted policymaking; Tom Friedman has written so many columns praising China’s energy strategy he should go work for Xinhua.

Joshua Kurlantzick, Council on Foreign Relations blog: “What is China thinking?”

Friday, September 24, 2010

Wen on Political Reform: no Hidden Ambitions

Both in his speech to the United Nations General Assembly, and in a meeting with American Chinese-language media, Chinese chief state councillor Wen Jiabao (温家宝) said this week that his government was seeking political restructuring. In his UN statement (“Getting to Know the Real China”) of Thursday, Wen told the General Assembly that his government would continue to deepen institutional reform:

We will endeavor to narrow the gap between urban and rural areas, between different regions and between the rich and the poor. We want to make sure that each and every citizen shares the benefit of China’s reform, opening up and development. While deepening economic restructuring, we will also push forward political restructuring. Otherwise, we cannot achieve the ultimate goal of economic reform and we will lose what we have gained from our modernization drive. We respect and protect human rights, uphold social equity and justice, and strive to achieve the free and all-round development for our people. This is the important hallmark of a democratic country under the rule of law. It is also a basic guarantee for a country’s lasting peace and stability.

Also, China would

continue to carry forward its fine culture. The development of a country and rejuvenation of a nation require not only great economic strength, but more importantly great cultural strength. The moral values and wisdom drawn from the 5,000-year Chinese civilization belong not only to China but also to the world. We will vigorously develop cultural programs and accelerate the development of a moral and ethical code that is commensurate with our socialist modernization drive and consistent with the traditional virtues of our nation. We respect the diversity of civilizations and will increase dialogue and exchanges with other civilizations to forge a common cultural bond for humanity. The Chinese nation, who has created an economic miracle, will create a new cultural splendor as well.

Wen repeated his theme about political reform in support of modernization in a meeting with people in charge of American Chinese-language media and Hong Kong and Macau media (美国华文媒体和港澳媒体负责人), as quoted by Changjiang Ribao (长江日报):

If economic reform doesn’t get the protection that comes from reforming the political system, it won’t be fully successful, and even the achievements made so far could still be lost again. In the reforms of our political system, what needs to be addressed most importantly? I believe the most important thing is to guarantee the the liberties and rights of the people given to them by the constitution and the law. That is to say, to mobilize the masses of the peoples’ initiative and creative spirits, in a relaxed [宽松 (kuān sōng), sometimes also translated as “liberal” – JR] political environment, enabling people to develop an independent spirit and creative thought, to let the people obtain freedom and comprehensive development – the main connotation of democracy and freedom.

Of course, when China wants to establish a country democratic ruled by law [or a country with law and order – 中国要建立一个民主和法治的国家 (fǎ zhì)], the so-called rule by law means that after a political party took power, it should act in accordance with the constitution and the law, the party’s will and positions must be turned into constitutional and lawful provisions by rightful procedures, and the ways of organizing must be enacted in compliance with the constitution and the law – only that can be called a country governed in accordance with the law (依法治国, yī fǎ zhì guó). This may take some time, but it is what modern civilization and modern politics demand, and it is what we must strive for.

When Wen previously called for political reform and loosening an excessive control by the CCP in Shenzhen on August 21, the Guardian suggested that

Wen’s comments – taken at face value – would appear to mark a change in the formula that has governed China since Deng inaugurated his economic reform.

Not so fast, argues D. S. Rajan, director of the Centre for China Studies in Madras (Chennai), India. Both party and state chairman Hu Jintao and Wen Jiabao himself were steadfastly subscribed to Multiparty Cooperation and Consultation under the leadership of the CCP. Rajan’s paper also provides a summary of both critics of political liberalization in China, and its advocates.

What is rarely pointed out is that both Hu Jintao and Wen Jiabao have almost reached the ends of their political careers. Both of them will probably step down in 2012/2013, as party chairman and leader of the government respectively, after two five-year terms in office.

Pensioners are often wiser than the active workforce, or, as John K. Fairbank, an American sinologist, found in “The Great Chinese Revolution”, plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose.

For sure, as Wen told the United Nations yesterday, China will continue to carry forward its fine culture.

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Related
Oppose the Scarlet Letters, Sept 5, 2010

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