Archive for October 27th, 2011

Thursday, October 27, 2011

The Leaders’ Efforts – Wu Sike begins Talks in Damascus

Links within blockquote added during translation – JR

SANA – Damascus

Syrian minister for external affairs and overseas Syrian nationals Walid Muallem met with Chinese special envoy for Middle Eastern issues at noon today. During the meeting, the two sides discussed China’s and Syria’s bilateral relations, how to develop cooperation in all fields, and how to advance them to strategic cooperation.


Minister Muallem described the effects of Syria’s current situation, and the pace of the reforms adopted by Syria’s leaders, aimed at satisfying the demands of the people, as well as the efforts made by Syria’s leaders to implement the reforms, such as the national dialog conference held in Damascus. He also gave an account of president Bashar al-Assad’s meeting with the Arab Ministerial Committee of yesterday.

穆阿利姆部长详细介绍了叙利亚当前局势的影响,以及叙利亚领导人所采取的改革步伐,其目的为了满足人民的需求,以及叙利亚领导人为实施改革所付出的努力,如:在大马士革举行国民对话大会。 另外,还向中国特使讲述了巴沙尔•阿萨德总统昨天与阿拉伯部长级委员会的会议结果。

Wu Sike emphasized China’s friendly relations with Syria. The Chinese side attached great importance to Syria’s security and stability, because Syria’s security and stability were also the entire Middle Eastern region’s security and stability. Wu Sike also rated the Syrian leaders’ efforts in this regard highly, in that they adopted dialog and following through on reforms to address the current crisis.


Wu Sike emphasized that the two countries should continue their cooperation, concerning international forums. He also rejected any kind of external interference in Syria’s internal politics.




» Al-Shara, al-Moallem Meet Sike, SANA (English), Oct 27, 2011
» SANA quotes Jiang Yu, October 27, 2011
» Professor of Propaganda, Now Lebanon, September 3, 2011
» The Reporter in the Rye, March 25, 2011
» Armtwists and Sanctions, Syria Comment, Nov 17, 2010

Thursday, October 27, 2011

17th Central Committee 6th Plenary Session “Culture” Document published

Xinhua news agency published the 17th CCP central committee’s 6th plenary session’s resolution (or decision) earlier this week – republished by China Radio International’s (CRI) Chinese service on Tuesday (GMT). The following are excerpts and summaries from the document.

1) Fully understanding and advancing the importance and urgency of cultural reform and development, raising awareness, increasing self-initiative in promoting the great development and prosperity of socialist culture.


Culture is the pulse of the nation, and the spiritual home of the people. During the process of our country’s more than five-thousand year-old civilization’s development, people of all nationalities have united inseparably, have restlessly strengthened themselves, have unitedly a well-established, broad and profound Chinese culture, and provided the Chinese nation’s development  and growth with strong spiritual power, thus making a significant and indelible contribution to humankind’s civilizational progress.


Ever since the day of its establishment, the Chinese Communist Party has been the faithful inheritor and advocate of the outstanding traditional Chinese culture, and the active  initiator and developer of China’s advanced culture. Our party has always attached great importance to the use of culture to lead into the direction of progress, uniting the hard-working forces, uniting and guiding the nationalities of the whole country, and, by constant new awakening to ideological culture, by theory creating new fruits, by culture establishing new successes, promoted the progressive development of the party and the people. Cultural work has played an irreplaceably important  role in reform, construction, and every historical period of reform.


The following, very long paragraph contains the usual buzzwords, from seeking the truth in the facts (实事求是), the sinicization of marxism (马克思主义中国化), the theoretical system of socialism with Chinese characteristics (中国特色社会主义理论体系), the use of sinicized marxism’s newest fruits to arm the party and to educate the people (用马克思主义中国化最新成果武装全党、教育人民), and to use the national spirit with patriotism as its core and the spirit of the times with reform as its core to  the  end of inspiring the will to fight (or morale – 用以爱国主义为核心的民族精神和以改革创新为核心的时代精神鼓舞斗志). Generally, this is a review of maoist and post-maoist concepts. Much of these buzzwords – minus Leninism [Correction – for clarity: Wu Bangguo mentioned Leninism; this document didn’t do so in its first paragraphs. For the document’s referral to Leninism, see part 2 of this translationJR] – had been referred to by Wu Bangguo, in his work report to the 11th “national people’s congress’ fourth session in March. I’m not trying to assess the prominence of either of these buzzwords, in either text.

Given globalization and other major global trends, the document continues, the role of culture in building cohesion within the country, was only the more obvious. The task of making national culture had become harder, and strengthening China’s soft power and its culture’s international influence had become just the more important (当今世界正处在大发展大变革大调整时期,世界多极化、经济全球化深入发展,科学技术日新月异,各种思想文化交流交融交锋更加频繁,文化在综合国力竞争中的地位和作用更加凸显,维护国家文化安全任务更加艰巨,增强国家文化软实力、中华文化国际影响力要求更加紧迫。).

The documents lists “the main contradictions and problems:

  • a lack of awareness in certain locations and (work) units when it comes to the importance of the building of culture
  • the loss or distortion of virtue, sincerity, values and core socialist values
  • a need to increase the ability to guide public opinion, the building and management of the internet, and public cultural services
  • a need to strengthen the international influence of Chinese culture
  • the development (or promotion) of the ranks of cultural talents



These are the lines that caught my eye while reading the document’s fully-understanding chapter (see above blockquote’s headline). I might continue translation this or next week, if it can’t be found in English elsewhere. Once in a while, the CCP’s website publishes English translations of documents like this one. So far, there is only a sparse summary plus some academic reactions available, plus an article on China’s non-Communist parties endorsing the CPC’s decision on boosting cultural development.

continued (Oct 28)  –

part 2 »



» All in Favor of Culture, CMP, Oct 26, 2011
» Dangwai, January 31, 2011
» Global Local Sticks TV, Oct 22, 2009
» Three Eight Hundreds, April 19, 2009


Thursday, October 27, 2011

Syrian Arab News Agency quotes Jiang Yu

In every street

In every street

Possibly to please Beijing, Syrian Arab News Agency (SANA) posted a news article in Chinese on Wednesday, quoting from a statement by foreign ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu, on a press conference at China’s foreign ministry on Tuesday, nearly or completely in full.

I haven’t yet found an equivalent to this news article on SANA’s or other official Syrian websites in English yet. However, SANA’s French website published a news article as early as on Tuesday, also quoting from the press conference of the same day. The people’s legitimate demands (人民[的]合理诉求, see blockquote below) is translated as the people’s logical demands (demandes logiques du peuple) there.

SANA – Beijing

Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Jiang Yu, answering a question concerning Syria on a regular press conference on October 25, said China hoped that all Syrian parties would attach most importance to the state’s and the people’s interest, dismiss violence, and avoid clashes and bloodshed, and that all parties would solve their differences by dialog and peaceful means, thus resolving the conflict; and that the Syrian government should actively implement its promised reforms, and respond to the people’s legitimate demands.

中国外交部发言人姜瑜2011年10月25日在举行的例行记者招待会上回答有关叙利亚当前局势问题时说,中国希望叙利亚有关各方能以国家和人民利益为重, 摒弃暴力,避免流血冲突;希望各方通过对话以和平方式解决分歧,化解矛盾;叙利亚政府应积极落实改革承诺,回应人民合理诉求;

At the same time, the parties should participate in a peaceful process, constructively and actively. The international community should promote solutions of the differences through dialog, and play a constructive role in safeguarding peace and stability in the entire Middle East.


Jiang Yu also said that China’s special envoy for Middle Eastern issues will visit Syria and Egypt, from October 26 to October 30.


Jiang’s Tuesday comments may be read as a cautious criticism of Syria’s ruling Ba’ath Party, as a “hope” that Damascus would respond to the people’s legitimate / logical  demands seems to suggest that such responses are still absent.

If this spells growing pressure on Syria, as Germany’s Focus news magazine suggested on Tuesday, remains to be seen. However, in case of a demise of Syria’s current rulers – in whichever way -, Beijing may want to position itself as the Syrian people’s advocate. Quotes like Jiang Yu’s, or possibly by Wu Sike later this week, could spell a hedge.



» U.S. Ambassador leaves Syria, Huffington Post, Oct 24, 2011
» An important speech, SANA, March 28, 2011
» China’s Car Exports Falling, August 19, 2009


Thursday, October 27, 2011

The BoZhu Interviews: a Translator and his Blog –

the internet’s blessings, the uphill battle battle of practicing foreign languages, and an old novel’s lasting relevance

Huolong started blogging eleven years ago. During the earlier stage, in Harbin, he mostly wrote about everyday life, his reading experiences, his work, hopes and fears, about childhood, classmates, and friendship. He originally started blogging in Chinese, but his blog soon became a blend of Chinese and English-language posts. Somewhere in the process, translation became another topic, and has by now segregated into his main topic. He lives and works in Beijing.

Huolong’s complete blog can be found here, and it also contains a category with English posts only.

The interview:

Q: You have been blogging for more than a decade, and for much of the time, you have been a bi-lingual blogger. Why do you blog? Was there a key moment where you felt that you should share your experiences and your feelings, which got your blog (or blogs) started?

A: Firstly, I want to express myself. A blog, or rather the broader Internet with all its applications built and flourishing on it, is a blessing for people like me. Secondly, I want to help. I’m a professional translator with Chinese as native tongue and English as a foreign/second one. I’ve been in this trade for more than a decade and have learned a great deal I want to share to do some good. Last but not least, I want to build some online brand for myself. My website helped me land my first and second jobs in Beijing and even played a great role in making my wife (just a classmate back then) believe I remained a not-so-bad person in 2004 after the long 14 years during which we’d lost each other.

Q: What’s the worst online article or post you have ever read about China (that you remember)?

A: The article or post I can’t remember. But I still remember a China blog that never fails to repulse me: In its newest post, he called the Chinese police officers “monkeys” and implied that their brick-breaking palms are useless for performance of their duties. This only further enhances my belief that Mylaowai has an unbalanced mind. For example, he couldn’t seem to understand that physical sturdiness is a small but key part of their overall capabilities. Only Mylaowai seems to assume that the Chinese officers don’t think high-tech is crucial to modern police actions.

Q: A number of your readers have subscribed to your translation training serial. How many persons are taking part? Do you know some of them personally? Do you feel that they are making headway, and do you get feedback which you put back into your courses?

A: Currently, there are about 300 subscribers to my newsletters, with some of them being my office colleagues. Most of them are only casual subscribers. I’ve seen no meaningful results since I started the newsletter more than a year ago.

[Update, Oct 28, follow-up question 1]:

Q: Are you mulling ways to guide subscribers to more efficient problem-solving?

A: Yes. I’ve tried in vain and found that it’s extremely difficult to change how they think about translation learning or that they are not dedicated enough.

[End of update follow-up question 1]

Q: How did you learn English? Which approach was most helpful? School? Work? Reading? “Real Life”?

A: Generally, I taught myself to use the language. I owe my English to a now controversial man named Li Yang, an English-language teacher-businessman whose teaching and motivation approach is characterized by crazy shouting by large English-learning crowds. I haven’t met him personally. But I bought some of his books in 1996. And in his books, he showed how people could learn good English in a non-English-speaking environment. According to his teachings, if I speak English well, I can then understand it well both spoken and written and write it well. Another secret he revealed is that reading is the shortest-cut to wisdom and knowledge accumulated over the years. I then went almost crazy practicing speaking English and became a devouring reader. As every language professional understands it, learning and studying a language involves everything associated with it and is a never-ending uphill battle. His methods make the process easier for me. My problem is the same as that of most other English learners in China: I have listened and spoken too little. This is where I must and will improve.

[Update, Oct 28, follow-up question 2]:

Q: Baike Baidu describes Li Yang’s approach as one that would tear down psychological barriers, when it comes to speaking (or shouting) – the fear of making mistakes and losing face (false shame). Does this explain his concept correctly?

A: His concept is more than tearing down the barriers, which I think is the only the first step. It also includes practical methods about how learners can learn English better, e.g. tongue muscle training and special English-pronunciation techniques for Chinese speakers. His concept also includes a key component: Learners should learn the language sentence by sentence, article by article, and book by book. This is a very effective antidote to the bad habits of most English learners in China, who tend to learn and study English vocabulary, grammar, listening, speaking, reading and writing as completely separate components. They dream that the components will fall into place automatically and then their English will be good one day. That day will never come.

[End of update follow-up question 2]

Q: Do you expect a broader readership to pay attention to your articles – about translation, or about your personal life -, or is yours rather a niche blog for a small circle of specialists? Would you mind if a broader readership got strongly involved in your commenting threads? Would you mind controversy?

A: I’ve only recently – that’s about one year ago – shifted my blogging focus to translation and languages. So now I only expect a much less-varied audience. It’s always good to have a bigger and more participatory readership for any types of blogs. I don’t mind controversy as long as I consider it constructive.

Q: Do you have a policy on trolls? Can you think of a reason to ban a commenter from your threads?

A: No. I don’t need any currently maybe because my posts don’t attract those people. I don’t like off-topic, abusive, or meaningless comments, to name a few.

Q: How closely do you follow Chinese and non-Chinese blogs respectively? Do you (as a reader) or they (as bloggers) focus on certain, recurring kinds of news or topics?

A: I like blogs with meaty contents. I’m a subscriber to quite a few Chinese and English blogs and read them every day. Most of them are in English. Their topics include translation, language, Internet, history and quotations.

Q: Being a bilingual blogger, you seem to follow both Chinese- and English-language blogs, and blog posts written by Chinese and foreign bloggers alike. Do you see anything their blogs would have in common? And what makes them different from each other?

A: The blogs I read are too diverse in topics and styles to have any commonalities. If there is one, I think it’s the dedication with which the bloggers write great contents.

Q: Have you seen big changes in your own blog or blogs, and in the Chinese, or foreign “China blogosphere” respectively since you started blogging yourself? Have you seen changes in the mainstream media?

A: For my blogs, I have changed to focus on language and translation topics. Sorry, I haven’t read enough China blogs or pay enough attention to changes, if any, to the mainstream media to offer useful inputs.

Q: Which is your favorite blog? (Please don’t name mine.) What’s the most informative online source about China?

A: My favorite is EB Blog because it’s written by experts and very informative and intelligent. I only casually read “China blogs”, and this is not enough for me to come up with any informed answer to the second question.

Q: Have you ever stopped reading blogs because you felt they were becoming boring, or because they angered you?

A: Yes. Mylaowai, for example.

Q: In your view, has China changed since you started blogging? Have your feelings changed? Has the world changed? How so?

A: Ten years have passed since I began my first website. A great many things have happened. China now is a polarized and layered society and people in it don’t always know or bother to know what’s happening in the rest of the society. That’s about the case for me, my peers, and those within my close and remote social networks. During the past decade, we worked hard under great pressure in competitive cities and thankfully our life got better year by year. And now we still see hope for even better life. This must be a unique feeling or observation from a global perspective because China is only one of the few countries that have generally succeeded in achieving its ambitious economic and social development goals that have lifted the country out of poverty during the past decade and positions the country for greater prosperity in the future. Politically, China is no better than ten years ago and might be worse. Government power still runs unchecked while the officials can have their own way in most cases. I’m not sure this is good for China’s future even though they have driven the economic growth for the past several decades.

[Update, Oct 28, follow-up question 3]:

Q: You mentioned the Britannica blog earlier in this interview. The blog looks somewhat like the equivalent to BBC Radio 4 (a station you once had on your blog roll, I believe). This is what a British commenter once wrote:

Really, you must understand that Radio 4 is the nearest thing the British middle class has to Pravda. It dispenses a particular kind of wisdom which distinguishes one from the vapid upper class and the benighted working class. Its effect on the minds of the British public is to create an image of middle-class respectability which no evidence to the contrary can dispel.

In the context of Chinese society having become a more layered society, can you think of something similar to BBC Radio Four – a Chinese website or a broadcaster – who would cater to a similar middle class in China?

A: It’s hard to define what the Chinese middle class is. If they are well educated, have professional or technical jobs, and earn enough money, I think they will like CCTV’s movie channels and

[End of update follow-up question 3]

Q: Besides your main translation/personal blog, you have also run a blog devoted to the Dream of the Red Chamber (or Mansion), since 2007. It seems to be hibernating. Why is that?

A: This blog is mainly one for collecting posts by other bloggers or writers. Maybe I’m looking in the wrong place, but Google searches yield few articles about that novel that I think warrant reposting. That novel is encyclopedic in scope and depth: life and death, life experience, history, philosophy, literature, food, health, architecture, and so on. Writing good articles about it requires lots of “been there, done that” stuff, acute observation, expansive thinking and great dedication. I view the novel as a description of a declining society in which the enlightened few saw no way out but still had hope in their heart. Historically, the novel described the decaying Chinese life and society in the 17th and 18th centuries during which time Europeans started to produce great science, technology, art, and literature, explored overseas and experienced drastic changes that led to the Industrial Revolution. China missed them all. This, I think, makes the author one of the most-visionary Chinese people in history.

Q: Is there an unasked question to which you would like to reply anyway?

A: Yes. I would like to say something again about the future of my blogging. I want it to be a source of useful information, a place where my readers find seriously written contents related to language and translation. I have learned to focus and concentrate in blogging. And finally thank you very much for this interview.

Q: The pleasure is all mine.

This interview can also be read here. This interview was conducted by an exchange of e-mails, October 27 – 28.


» Dream of the Red Chamber, a translation by H. B. Joly, 1891
» All BoZhu Interviews

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