Guizhou Donkey: Make Yourself at Home

You can serve lousy food, provided that your guests aren’t used to anything better, or because you are their boss and they can’t choose. In either case, it will help when you serve that stuff in a cozy environment. Your guests can make themselves at home – mum cooks as badly as ever.

The same is true for “Huanqiu Shibao, the Chinese sister paper of the English-language “Global Times”. On July 21, they missed (probably sarcastically) a more innovative Western propaganda approach.

huanqiu_headline

“America draws allies into political manipulation”,
Huanqiu Shibao, July 21

Several academics, the paper said, had stated in interviews that the U.S. and their allies, after failed campaigns concerning Hong Kong, Taiwan, or human rights, had now come up with accusations that China was behind cyber attacks. That was the Guizhou donkey’s weak trick.

Here’s the story in English, according to the Chinese online encyclopedia “Baike Baidu”.

Once upon a time, there were no donkeys in Guizhou. Nobody knew what a donkey was. Some day, a man took a donkey to Guizhou. He left it at the foot of a mountain. A tiger in the mountains saw the donkey from afar, heard it braying, and thought: “where does this monster come from? It looks awesome, and I’ll better keep a distance1

Some time passed during which the tiger saw the donkey walk to and fro and bray once in a while. Now the tiger thought: “pretty big pet, I don’t know what it can do, but let me see!”

The tiger approached the donkey unnoticed and touched it. The donkey became angry: “why the hell do you touch me?” Then he kicked with his hooves and missed the tiger two or three times. That’s how the tiger realized: “this donkey*) can’t do anything but kick, he can’t do anything!”

So he opened his mouth to eat the donkey, but the terrified donkey shouted: “don’t get any closer, I can kick you!”

“Kicking people is all you can do,” laughed the tiger, “but I can eat people!” No sooner said than done.

That was turned into a proverb, describing how people manage with makeshift methods that aren’t special. In short: “the donkey’s skills are poor”!

In Chinese, that writes 黔驢技窮 (黔驴技穷, qiánlǘjìqióng), and qián, another word for Guizhou (maybe not exactly the same territory as what it is now), can also be found in a more classical version of the story (Chinese and English there).

So why does “Huanqiu Shibao” use this proverb?
a) “Huanqiu Shibao” skills are poor – they can’t do any better.
b) You mustn’t try to say anything better when it can be said in four characters.
c) It’s cozy (see introduction). No matter how stupid the message is, readers will remember Granny’s bedtime stories and find it trustworthy. They may even feel sort of tiger.


Not the way Granny told it – click picture for video

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Notes

*) That’s what the Baike story says – maybe the tiger has gotten to know the donkey’s name, because he’ll only eat what he knows
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