Archive for ‘language’

Sunday, November 4, 2012

BBC: Taking Back their Gift to the World

For many millions of people around the world the World Service is the voice of Britain overseas. The former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan described the World Service as quite possibly “Britain’s greatest gift to the World in the 20th Century”, and I see as Foreign Secretary the immense contribution it makes to how Britain is perceived internationally.  For 166 million listeners and viewers each week across the globe the World Service is a source of reliable and impartial information that transcends borders, regions and cultures.
one of our country’s most important sources of soft power, with an unparalleled ability to reach out across the globe.

William Hague, British Foreign Secretary, celebrating the BBC World Service‘s 80th birthday early this year.

BBC External Services

Goodbye, External Services, …

By making these changes, we are achieving the savings required whilst crucially, ensuring our audiences continue to receive the best programming.

Peter Horrocks, BBC Global News director, quoted by the BBC in October this year.

The English short wave service will continue to all regions, but will be reduced from between seven and 19 hours per day, depending on region, to six hours per day across all regions.
[Arab and Middle-East English service cuts]
We estimate that the changes being announced today may result in a loss of up to 2.5 million listeners, an overall loss of 1% of the total Global News audience across all platforms. Any loss of audience is of course regrettable but we are not in a financial position to continue to distribute our services on all frequencies.

Peter Horrocks, in an e-mail to staff on October 25 this year.



» Stuff of the Past, April 2, 2011
» BBC drops Languages, Jan 28, 2011
» We all now speak English well enough, BBC, March 27, 1999
» Bruno Adler, Wikipedia, acc. 20121104


Thursday, July 19, 2012

Communication Barriers: “Not just Someone from Chinatown”

Yang Fan (杨帆), a former representative of Chinese company Nuctech, asked Namibian High Court judge president Petrus Damaseb in June to provide him with a competent interpreter, not just someone from China Town, as he had been struggling to follow court proceedings.  The judge said he would do his best to find him a good interpreter.

Yang, along with two Namibian officials, was arrested in summer 2009, but released on bail in August that same year. He apparently hasn’t been allowed to leave the country since.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

French Architect “with Bo Xilai Ties” Arrested in Cambodia

French architect Patrick Henri Devillers has been arrested by Cambodian police, reportedly with the co-operation of Beijing, which is seeking his extradition. Also reportedly, Phnom Penh is in a process of deciding whether to send Devillers to France, or to follow a demand to extradite him to China. According to the BBC’s Chinese website, Devillers is a friend of Bo Xilai‘s family, and a business friend of Bo’s wife Gu Kailai. According to a Le Monde report, Devillers had first met the Bo family in Dalian, just as another foreign Bo/Gu contact, Neil Heywood had.

But their businesses were different, and not interlinked, Deviller was quoted in the Le Monde report, in May this year (i. e. weeks before his arrest).

“What we had in common is that we were married to Chinese women. We knew each other (…). What I can say about him is that he wasn’t in the bluff. He had a great mental nobility, in the English traditions of honor.”

“On avait en commun d’être mariés à des Chinoises. On se connaissait (…). Je peux dire de lui en tout cas qu’il n’était pas du tout dans l’esbroufe. Il avait une grande noblesse d’âme, dans les traditions anglaises de l’honneur.”

Devillers had first arrived in China in 1987, aged about 27, to learn Chinese, according to Le Monde. It was there that he met his wife who studied the classical zither [probably the guzheng – JR], and started a movie project about the Tian An Men movement in 1989, which ended with the massacre.

During the 1990s, much of his work involved working with the Dalian city government’s architecture and urban planning department.

The way Devillers comes across in the Le Monde article suggests that he took a great interest in China’s intellectual history, and particularly in Taoism.



» Oh, Rule of Law, April 11, 2012



» No Extradition without Evidence, Telegraph, June 20, 2012


Thursday, May 24, 2012

Confucius Institute: State Department Directive “an Untimely End to Chinese Classes”

Main Link: Huanqiu Shibao, May 24, 2012, 03:29.

Translated off the reel, and posted right away. A link to the State-Department directive can be found under footnote 2. Links within blockquote added during translation.

A notice issued by U.S. State Department officials on May 17, to all Confucius Institutes in America, has caused great controversy. The new notice requires existing Confucius Institutes to apply for American “certification”, to become part of regular courses, and bans Chinese teachers and volunteers to teach in middle and elementary schools. A Hanban responsible, on May 23, expressed “shock” to a Huanqiu Shibao reporter, as no consultations had preceded this notice. Insiders told this reporter that to date, American officials hadn’t explained to whom the Confucius Institutes should turn for certification. U.S. “Higher Education News”1) wrote on May 21 that the notice would disrupt Confucius Institute teaching activities. “People don’t undersstand the State Department’s sudden notice. Actually, Confucius Institutes have been on American campuses for almost ten years.” An insider told the Global Times reporter on May 23 that currently, Confucius Institutes were highly successful and influential in America, that many Americans learned Chinese, and that America was somewhat worried about this. In addition, it was election year in America, and political consideration could be behind the measures taken.

The notice was reportedly issued by Robin Lerner, the State Department Deputy Secretary in charge of Educatonal and Cultural Matters and private-sector exchange. The notice says that while Confucius Institutes may be beneficial to promoting cultural exchange, its activities “need to be in accordance with the standards of exchange, and respect the relevant law and regulations”. “Professors, researchers, short-term visiting scholars or institutes, as well as students, were not allowed to teach in primary schools2). […] The notice also says that “to ensure that the Confucius Institute education corresponds with and maintains suitable regulations and standards, the Institutes must apply for American certification”, “on initial examination, it isn’t clear if the Confucius Institutes will get American certification”. The State Department allows currently teaching Confucius Institute teachers with J-1 visa to continue teaching until the end of the school year in June, but won’t renew their visas. If they wish, they can return to China to apply for appropriate exchange project visas.
据悉,签发这一公告的是美国国务院负责教育和文化事务局私营部门交流的副助理秘书长罗宾•勒纳。公告称,尽管孔子学院可能有益于促进文化交流,但其所从事的活动“必须符合正确的交流规范,遵循相关法规”。“教授、研究学者、短期访问学者或学院、大学学生不允许在公立和私立小、中学教学,否则便与有关交流访问项目法规相违。 […..] ”公告还称,“为确保孔子学院的教育符合和保持适合的规定标准,孔子学院必须申请美国认证”,“美国国务院的初步审视并不清楚这些孔子学院是否得到美国认证”。美国务院允许目前持有J-1签证的孔子学院教师继续留至2012年6月本学年结束,但不会为他们续签签证。如果他们愿意,可回中国再申办一种合适的交流项目签证。

There are Confucius Institutes at 81 American universities. The notice has caused wide-spread shock, confusion, and incomprehension. Confucius Institutes in all places said that the notice was “surprising” or “unusual”, and there were discussions everywhere as to how to deal [with the situation]. Huanqiu Shibao has learned that J-1 visas are a kind of non-immigration visas, issued to foreigners who participate in “exchange and visitor programs approved by the State Department”. An official survey concerning J-1 visa holders was carried out early this year.

A lady who had taught for Confucius Institutes in America told Huanqiu Shibao on May 23 that teachers sent by China to teach abroad were mainly government-sponsored, or volunteers. They all held visitor J-1 visas. She had been a volunteer, and a visa had been rather easy to obtain.

What people find most incomprehensible is that American officialdom requires Confucius Institutes to carry out so-called “certification”. Huanqiu Shibao has learned that to date, the State Department has not said where Confucius Institutes should turn for certification. By comparison, nothing has been heard of German Goethe Institutes, French Institutes or other cultural exchange bodies in America having received American certification. People in charge at the first Confucius Institutes established in the U.S., University of Maryland Confucius Institute and George Mason University Confucius Institute, express confusion, and say that the “certification” issue is currently being discussed. The person in charge at the George Mason University Confucius Institute hopes that the notification came without political considerations. After all, Obama’s initiative to have 100,000 students study in China was about encouraging American students to study Chinese.

According to explanations by a Hanban person in charge, made to Huanqiu Shibao, Hanban has sent a letter to university presidents, to carry out negotiations. The letter says that Confucius Institutes in America were established at American requests, and run in cooperation with Hanban and Chinese institutions of higher education. The Chinese side fully respected the esteemed universities’ powers to make their own decisions (自主权)3), and there had never been special instructions concerning the teaching and cultural-exchange activities carried out by the Institutes. The central office provided help, such as support in that it sent volunteers, as requested by the American side. The letter also says that the Chinese side respects American governmental law and regulations, but that in this process, we do not wish to see that volunteer projects get disrupted, as this would lead to many quickly-developing Chinese-language classes coming to an untimely end, resulting in losses for the schools and students.

The person in charge also said that before volunteers head for America, they get an invitation from the American schools, in accordance with the Sino-American school agreements, and apply for and obtain a visa. From 2005 on, China had developed Chinese language education to help America, and had sent more than 2,100 teachers. The project had always worked smoothly. It had been believed that once teachers received an American invitation, the application would lead to a visa, and that there would be no problems. No consultations had preceded the State Department’s May-17 notice, and this was felt to be very sudden and surprising by those in charge at the Confucius Institutes.

Many presidents [of universities with Confucius Institutes] were disgusted by the State Department notice, and had many objections, as they believed it interfered with their universities’ autonomy3). They currently contacted the State Department and negotiated. Huanqiu Shibao also learned that to address the doubts, a State-Department official was to be sent to Maryland University to have direct talks with people in charge at the university and the Confucius Institute.



1) This is my translation of 美国“高等教育新闻”网站 – the website’s real name may be different.

2) Quote:

Teaching positions in primary and secondary schools (K-12) are only authorized under the “Teacher” category set forth at 22 CFR 62.24. Teaching primary and secondary school students in public school systems or private schools is not permitted by professors, research scholars, short-term scholars, or college/university students.

(Guidance Directive 2012-06 Exchange Visitor Program – Confucius Institutes)

3) 自主权, which may be translated either as the right to make decisions of one’s own, or autonomy. The term for provincial or territorial autonomy in China, for places like Tibet, would be 自治区 (autonomous regions), and is therefore not exactly the same term.



» Three Eight-Hundreds, April 19, 2009


Monday, May 21, 2012

Yang Rui and Soft Power

You probably can’t blog about soft power and ignore the weibo message Yang Rui (杨锐), a CCTV-9 presenter, reportedly wrote. But during this busy first half of the week, there are other things to do. Besides, while this is certainly relevant information to be processed, I’m wondering why the response from many foreigner is so heated. True – the message in question is – to put it carefully – running counter to anything like “soft power”, but to me, the only explanation for the angry foreign replies to it seems to be that they expected Yang to do better. I don’t even know Yang as a television personality. I can’t remember that I ever watched the channel. All I know is that CCTV-9 is state-owned, and broadcasts in English, mainly for a foreign audience.

Maybe what Yang wrote about Melissa Chan, the al-Jazeera correspondent who had to leave the country, is actually a semi-official answer to questions foreign-ministry spokesman Hong Lei had previously been asked – questions to which there hasn’t been a really telling answer. Yang’s would be a nasty and strange answer (and maybe that’s  why Hong wouldn’t want to provide it), but basically not a surprising one. The only remaining question for now would be if Yang wrote the message on his own behalf or on behalf of the CCP.

That’s all I can think of – and speculate about – at the moment, and how I should connect this to the topic of soft power, I don’t know yet. Maybe I’ll know on Thursday or Friday.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Ignorant, Incompetent and Shameless, Han Han as a Writer

By Huo Long

Huo Long is a translator and blogger in Beijing. Originally posted on his blog on March 12; reposted by permission.

It’s been more than a month since I started following the rivalry between Fang Zhouzi (方舟子, real name: Fang Shimin, 方是民) and Han Han (韩寒). Fang graduated from Michigan State University with a Doctor’s degree in biochemistry. He is a scholar and a popular science writer and is better known for devotion of his spare time to exposing academic and scientific fraudulence in China. Han was a high school dropout. He is widely extolled as a once teenage literary genius, a popular novel writer, an accomplished car racer, and, most recently, an advocate of freedom and democracy. Fang accuses Han of being a fake writer and having most, if not all, of his works ghostwritten.

I wrote a Chinese blog post titled Closing of Han Han’s Ghostwriting-Gate that didn’t pack much punch. In the post, I tried to produce a point-by-point analysis of too many contradictions and inconsistencies found in Han Han. He has long ago demonstrated writing talent as a teenager (as shown in his early award-winning compositions) and a sought-after writer of bestsellers. However, in his video interviews, he showed a surprising ignorance of literary writing, traditions, and even his own works. It later occurred to me that the message of the post I wanted to get across could be as simple as one sentence:

Everyone should rely on their sound logics, common sense and life experience to make sure they are not enchanted or fooled.

And of course, as I later figured out, this message had been intended for people in their right mind, not those who are muddle-headed. For the latter, they won’t listen to anything they are told.

Couples of days later, I made another attempt in vain to create a powerful post. Suffering this “blogger’s block” not uncommon to me, I turned to read other Han Han-bashing articles. Their writers presented their well-thought-out, insightful, and evidence-rich arguments so eloquently and amazingly.

Looking at People through a Glass (杯中窥人) by Han Han at the age of 14 and Three Important Things (三重门) at 17 are already far beyond my current writing capabilities. As if it were not enough, after reading some student composition books on offer in a supermarket, I found that even today’s ten-year-olds write better than me.

I have no intention to complete that unfinished post. So I decide to paste its fragments here for the entertainment of my blog readers:

Is now Han Han dead as a writer?

Answer in Han Han’s casual writing style he used in a Sina Weibo private message to one of his supporters (It’s hard enough for me to mimic Han Han’s untrained and uneducated writing style in Chinese. So I decided to give up trying to do so in English. I’ll just write in normal English, at least as I define it):

Though he as a writer is already stone dead, Han Han as human being is still alive and thrives. His father, Han Renjun (韩仁均) who used to write in the pen name of Han Han before his son was born, is hale and hearty. They are now secretively planning their doomed strategies with which to strike back at Fang Zhouzi and his supporters.

Han Han is a character I cannot possibly fathom. Casting my eye to the rest of the country, I can find no one like him, so divided in personality. This only makes him seem even more mysterious to me.

For that matter, I’m almost as good as Han Han. I taught myself to translate from scratch. Also a drop-out from an occupational school where accounting was taught, I’d just finished junior elementary school. While at the accounting school, I joined a nationally accredited, but not nationally appreciated and often discriminated part-time self-study program (自学考试), and later earned a diploma of English. It is roughly equivalent to a two-year college degree. My ten years of hard work in Beijing paid off. I now have a happy family living in an apartment we call our own. When asked about how she thought of my looks, my wife would say “You’re so very handsome, honey”. About my height, she would say “You must not be taller. If taller, you’d be a perfect man I’m not worthy enough to have you as a husband!” Not being completely convinced, I brought the questions to my son. He simply answered, “en!”, “en!”, “en!”, with which he meant he approved very much of how good I look and how tall I stand. Well, both my wife and son speak so highly of me. So, I have no other choice than to believe their words! … Oh, sorry, I forgot to mention that my son was just one-year and three-month-old this February. [Note: With this almost disgusting narcissism also found in Han Han’s book Just Drift Like This (就这么漂来漂去), I’d wanted to quip in later paragraphs: “Some supporters of Han Han are like men or women who are head over heels in love with him and they won’t be able to see his true self; others are like one-year and three-month-old innocent babies who only know it’s fun to stir their fresh pee with dirt and know nothing of what’s bad or good for them.”]

A man called Mai Tian (麦田, or apparently Wheat Field) wrote a blog post entitled Man-made Han Han (人造韩寒). In the post, he accused him of being a fake writer and a product of only commercial packaging, and having his award-winning compositions and bestsellers ghostwritten. Angered by this accusation, Han Han offered CNY 20,000,000 and the future loyalties from his books as a reward to anyone who can prove a line or even a single word was done by people other than Han Han himself. He made clear his seriousness about this offer by writing out all the 7 zeros in the award amount. He was even willing to die before his daughter grew up if any of his works had been ghostwritten, according to one of his blog post which was later edited to exclude this oath. However, in an interview with Hunan Satellite TV that followed hot on the heels of his prize offer, Han Han, who dressed himself like a trend-setting actor with a scarf around his neck and wore a charming smile, said calmly: “The award I offered was a joke. [I didn’t have any better idea than that offer. I wanted to show how angry I was about being accused of having my works ghostwritten]. I cannot possibly prove I don’t have a team [to ghostwrite for me].” (“我又没有办法证明我没有团队,所以才开玩笑的,拿出了这个悬赏。“)

Han Han’s inability of keeping his promise did not stop there. The award caught the attention of Fang Zhouzi. He then read through Han’s early, recent and new books, as well as a biography “My Son Han Han” (我的儿子韩寒) by the older Mr. Han, and watched absorbedly Han’s video interviews. By doing so, he did find clues that made him believe some of Han’s articles and books were ghostwritten. He then posted his findings and textual analyses on his Sina blog. However, Han Han again found this infuriating. He accused Fang of “libeling” and brought his grievance to a court in the Putuo District, Shanghai against Fang and another man named Liu Mingze (刘明泽). No one seemed to know who this faceless Mr. Liu was – Mai Tian is not surnamed LIU. It later turned out that Han Han’s “extra-luxury” lawyers’ team sued that poor Shanghai-based Mr. Liu because they wanted the court to have jurisdiction over the case. To achieve that end, one defendant had to be domiciled in Shanghai. His lawyers’ team makes being an innocent onlooker a very dangerous thing: Just because Liu was in Shanghai, of all the people against Han Han in the controversy, he was chosen to be a privileged defendant in a libel case doomed to be so high-profile. [Han later dropped the case against Liu.]

This can be likened to an imagined challenge invitation in the colonial days of Shanghai. Han Han, who was a much acclaimed and self-styled kungfu master, invites Fang Zhouzi, a taiji boxer who questions Han’s worthiness as a kungfu fighter, to a contest in which Han wanted to show his power. Then the much anticipated duel started with a fanfare. In the first round, Fang soon confirmed his suspicion by finding Han’s lack of strong kick power. Without meeting any effective resistance, Fang casually took advantage of one of Han’s many weaknesses and swept Han off his feet. Han hit head-first against the ground and suffered a bleeding head. The referee whistled and the first round ended. Han complained to his father, “Dad, we provoked the wrong man. He’s not to be intimidated. I’d thought he’d back down. I cannot possibly defeat him!” The older Mr. Han had a better idea, “Sweet. Don’t panic. If you cannot win him in the duel, just don’t go back to it. We can report him to the Shanghai International Police and accuse him of physically assaulting you in the duel!”


Some people cannot figure out why Han Han would want to bring the case to a Chinese court. “Hadn’t he criticized the Chinese court system as a mockery of justice?” “That’s exactly the reason why he wanted his case tried there.”

If you’re not interested at all in the argument over these seemingly trivialities, or just don’t like the way in which Fang Zhouzi seems so intent to do injustice to an innocent man.

Think twice. Is this that trivial or simple?

An ignorant and incompetent writer, Han Han has gone so far as to be admired as a talented adolescent, a bestseller writer, an advocate of democracy and freedom, a social and government critic, and a public intellectual (公知, yet another stigmatized Chinese term after 小姐, Miss, young lady, which now often means a prostitute; and 同志, comrade, which now can mean gay men.). His ascent reflects the distorted values of the present-day Chinese society, in which fake, attractively packaged and effectively promoted, sells well as the real McCoy to the unsuspecting consumer.

The ongoing rivalry between the two sides is very much like the elections on Taiwan. Almost half of its voters support the Democratic Progress Party (DPP), as corrupt and deceitful as it use to be, simply because they don’t want the Kuomintang in power. The problem for Han Han now is: Can he also reinvent himself like the DPP has done and prove his worthiness?

The Chinese people always admire the Germans for their strictness and rigorousness in their work, the Japanese for their great attention to details in their manufacturing, and the Americans for their love of freedom and democracy in their politics. However, when it comes to the crunch, some of the Chinese refuse to do what their role models have done. In a split personality, they only drift along in their work, are not ashamed of the jobs they’ve botched up, or take sides in disputes only by judging what’s good for them, instead of what’s right or wrong.

Essentially a contradictory, impossible presence, Han Han can only be true if he meets two criteria: a) he’s a genius; and b) he’s an average man. However, these two are mutually exclusive. If one is true, then the other is false, or vice versa.

For example, in the Three Important Things he supposedly began writing as a 16-year-old and finished a year later, the books and people he cited and made reference to include, according to an incomplete list compiled by an unidentified source:


Guanzuibian (管锥编), a study journal in which QIAN Zhongshu annotated ancient Chinese books; Huainanzi (淮南子), a collection of Taoist writing in the Western Han Dynasty (206 B.C. – 25 A.D.); Shangshu (尚书), a collection of imperial archives before China’s first unified Qin Dynasty (221 B.C.-206 B.C.); Wanli Yehuobian (万历野获编), a compilation in the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644); 康河里的诗灵, Google yields no immediately relevant or definite search findings in the first few pages; 《西学与晚清思想的裂变》, Google yields no immediately relevant or definite search findings in the first few pages; Quintus Horatius Flaccus (贺拉斯), a Roman poet and critic (65 B.C. – 8 B.C.); 流浪的人生, Google yields no immediately relevant or definite search findings in the first few pages; Eight Travel Records of Yongzhou (永州八记), including The Travel Record of the Little Stone Lake (至小丘西小石潭记), written by LIU Zongyuan (柳宗元, 773 – 819); The Analects of Confucius (论语), a Confucius classic; The School of Huitong Says So (会通派如是说), by WU Mi (吴宓, 1894-1978); From Chaos to Order (从混浊到有序), Google yields no immediately relevant or definite search findings in the first few pages; Formal Logics (形式逻辑学), Google yields no immediately relevant or definite search findings in the first few pages; Stories of Searching for Gods and Spirits (搜神记), attributed to GAN Bao (干宝, Eastern Jin (317-420)) but mostly modified in later generations; Everlasting Regret (长恨歌), a love poem about Tang Emperor Xuanzong and Imperial Concubine Yang by BAI Juyi (白居易, 772 – 846); 本 • 琼森与德拉蒙德的谈话录, Google yields no immediately relevant or definite search findings in the first few pages; 心理结构及其心灵状态, Google yields no immediately relevant or definite search findings in the first few pages; On the Death of David Hume (论大卫•休谟的死), David Hume (1711-1776), a British philosopher, historian and economist; Madame Bovary (包法利夫人), by Gustave Flaubert ( French writer, 1821 – 1880); A Chronicle of Zuo (左传), a Confucius classic during China’s Warring States (403 BC – 221 BC); 铁轨边的风, Google yields no immediately relevant or definite search findings in the first few pages; 教学园地, Google yields no immediately relevant or definite search findings in the first few pages; Flowers in the Mirror (镜花缘), a novel written by LI Ruzhen (李汝珍, 1763-1830); 佳人, Google yields no immediately relevant or definite search findings in the first few pages; 美女赋, Google yields no immediately relevant or definite search findings in the first few pages; 江南的水, Google yields no immediately relevant or definite search findings in the first few pages; Guangyang Zaji (广阳杂记), by LIU Xianting (刘献廷, 1648 – 1695); Being Digital (数字化生存), by Nicholas Negroponte (1943 – ) in 1995; Xianqing Ouji (闲情偶寄), by LI Yu (李渔, 1611 – 1680); Chushibiao (出师表) by ZHUGE Liang (诸葛亮, 181 – 234); Three Character Classic (三字经), a traditional Chinese primer book; 李敖快意恩仇录 by LEE Ao (李敖, 1935-), a mainland-born Taiwanese writer; Shehualu (舌华录), a collection of witty remarks by CAO Chen (曹臣) in the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644); Romance of the Western Chamber (西厢记) by WANG Shifu (王实甫, ca. 1260 – 1336); Chinese Literature History (中国文学史), Google yields no immediately relevant or definite search findings in the first few pages; A Dream in Red Mansions (红楼梦) written in the Qing Dynasty (1616-1911); All Men Are Brothers (水浒传) by SHI Naian (施耐庵, 1296-1371); Four Generations Under One Roof (四世同堂) by Lao She (老舍, 1899 -1966); Shiji (史记) by SIMA Qian (司马迁, ca. 145 BC – 90 BC); Zhanguoce (战国策) by LIU Xiang (ca. 77 BC – 6 BC); Master Sun’s Art of War (孙子兵法) by SUN Wu (孙武, birth and death dates unknown, a contemporary of Confucius); Shuowen Jiezi (说文解字) by XU Shen (许慎, ca. 58 – 147); The Metamorphoses (变形记) by Roman poet Ovid (43 BC – AD 17/18); A Biography of Chinese Writers (中国作家传), Google yields no immediately relevant or definite search findings in the first few pages; Mencius (孟子), a Confucius classic by Mencius (372 BC – 289 BC); Journey to the West (西游记) by WU Chengen (吴承恩, 1501 – 1582); Liaozhai Zhiyi (聊斋志异) by PU Songling (蒲松龄, 1640 – 1715); Boule de Suif (羊脂球) by French writer Guy de Maupassant (1850 – 1893); QIAN Zhongshu Who Has Walked Out of the Magic Mirror (走出魔镜的钱钟书), a biography of Qian by WANG Yinfeng (王吟凤) in 1999; The Carnal Prayer Mat (肉蒲团) by LI Yu (李渔, 1611 – 1680); and Liezi (列子), a Taoist classic.


Oscar Wilde; Martin Heidegger; Auguste François Xavier Comte; Franz Kafka; Gregor Samsa; Zhu Tao-sheng (竺道生), a Chinese Buddhist thinker; LI Liangping (栗良平), a modern Chinese writer; Émile Zola; Guy de Maupassant; Gustave Flaubert; ZHANG Junou (张俊欧), not found in Google search; ZHU Guangqian (朱光潜), a modern Chinese scholar; Denis Diderot; Ortega; van der Sar; Socrates; Athena; DAI Wangshu (戴望舒, a modern Chinese poet); Takashi Kashiwabara (柏原崇), a Japanese actor; Yosuke Eguchi (江口洋介), a Japanese actress; TANG Yin (唐寅, also known as 唐伯虎 in Chinese), an ancient Chinese painter; CAO Juren (曹聚仁), a modern Chinese writer; LI Yu (李渔), an ancient Chinese writer; DU Mu (杜牧), an ancient Chinese poet; LU Xun (鲁迅), a modern Chinese writer; CAO Zhi (曹植), an ancient Chinese figure; DU Fu (杜甫), an ancient Chinese poet; Laotze (老子), the founder of Taoism; QIAN Zhongshu (钱钟书), a modern Chinese scholar and writer; WU Mi (吴宓), a modern Chinese scholar; George Yeh (叶公超), a modern Chinese diplomat; LEE Ao (李敖), a modern Chinese writer on Taiwan; Hu Shih (胡适), a modern Chinese scholar and liberal; Han Feizi (韩非子), an ancient Chinese thinker; HsunTzu (荀子), an ancient Chinese thinker; Zhuangzi (庄子), an ancient Chinese thinker; Xu Zhimo (徐志摩), a modern Chinese writer; LIU Yong (柳永), an ancient Chinese poet; Mao Zedong (毛泽东), a modern Chinese politician; SONG Yu (宋玉), an ancient Chinese poet; HAN Yu (韩愈), an ancient Chinese poet; LIU Zongyuan (柳宗元), an ancient Chinese writer; LIU Yong (刘墉), a Taiwanese writer; Mozi (墨子), an ancient Chinese thinker; LIN Huiyin (林徽因), a modern Chinese writer; CHEN Yanque (陈寅格), a modern Chinese scholar; Paul-Marie Veriaine; Li Yu (李煜), an ancient Chinese poet and emperor; Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsch; GUO Moruo (郭沫若), a modern Chinese writer and politician; Benito Mussolini; Arthur Schopenhauer; Filippo Tommaso Marinetti; Napoleon; Hitler; Madame Curie; James Watt; Thomas Edison; ZHANG Haidi (张海迪), a modern Chinese writer; Confucius; LIANG Shiqiu (梁实秋), a Chinese writer on Taiwan; LIU Yazi (柳亚子), a modern Chinese poet; Montesquieu; ZEN Guofan (曾国藩), a late Qing Dynasty (1616-1911) politician; LI Baichuan (李百川), an ancient Chinese writer; Kong Xiangxi (孔祥熙), a modern Chinese politician; Empress Dowager Cixi (慈禧太后), a late Qing Dynasty ruler; XIAO Fuxing (肖复兴), a modern Chinese writer; Nikita Khrushchev; William Shakespeare; JIANG Qing (江青), Mao Zedong’s wife and Chinese politician; Romain Rolland; SU Shi (苏东坡), an ancient Chinese poet; YANG Wanli (杨万里), an ancient Chinese poet; and SHAO Jiaxuan (邵稼轩), an ancient Chinese man.

He managed to write this complex long novel with only slips of the pen the needed correction. At such a young age, he could make references to the books and the people and integrate their elements in the creation of the novel. His manuscripts are as clean as transcripts, as shown in a photo of his “manuscripts” he posted in his blog trying to convince the public he was indeed the creator of the novel.

Han is no doubt a genius as it comes to writing. However, to the great surprise of the least literarily minded, such a well-read genius admitted repeatedly and strongly in an interview with Hong Kong-based Phoenix TV that he has never read A Dream in Red Mansions (红楼梦). However, in his novel Three Important Things, he made reference to the Chinese novel classic in at least three brilliantly written paragraphs. In the novel, he has also demonstrated great knowledge of and familiarity with things and witty talks even in his father’s generation. Moreover, in the interview, he said to the effect that “There is no such a thing as a classic book; it’s only an average book that has later become classics after much reading by generations of people who had nothing better to read”.

Furthermore, he couldn’t even distinguish between an embassy and a consulate. In a blog post about Wang Lijun (王立军), Han referred to the U.S. consulate as the “US Embassy in Chengdu[, Sichuan province]”.

Additionally, he committed a laughable anachronism in a TV interview. He accused Fang Zhouzi’s tactics of “being like those of Yao Wenyuan (姚文元)” (1931-2005), who, according to Han, locked up his comrades in dark rooms in the Yan’an Rectification Movement (延安整风, 1942-1944, a purge that reportedly claimed the lives of 10,000 Communists).

It’s hard to believe that the Han Han featured in the video interviews is truly the one who has personally written all his award-winning student compositions and early books.

According to Han Han, a “little notebook” helped him write the intelligent and almost pedant books as a very young high school dropout. But he claimed that he later lost such capabilities. In the notebook he kept all the quotes and references he used in his book. This makes me wonder whether the booklet was a synthetic steroid, Viagra, or the helping hand of God: Why couldn’t Han Han perform the functions as a skilled writer in the absence of a compilation of mysterious notes?

What else Han Han said in video interviews:

As shown by these revealing video interviews, Han’s actually an “honest” man who often speaks his mind unwittingly. It must be his father or someone else who chose for Han a path that leads to his today’s fame and fortune he doesn’t deserve.

In the above Sina interview, he showed his unfamiliarity with a book he wrote recently. He reacted with surprise, saying (12’26”) that he “didn’t weep”, when answering a question the hostess asked for the audience, “In your book you wept because of a loss you suffered in racing… Have you ever wept because of a racing loss?”

In a interview with Netease in 2005, Han Han personally confirmed that a paragraph conspicuously advertised in the book covers and chapter introduction of Just Drift Like This (就这么漂来漂去) was not written by him. When asked about what he thought of the paragraph, a quite surprised Han said (16′ 12″), “[…] I didn’t know where my editor got the words and put them there. It’s not written by me. It’s totally not written by me. They are particularly not my words. […]” Han last month argued in a separate interview that he “did write those words”, but he “did not agree with them”.

In the video, in his broken, hesitating, off-topic, and sometimes rambling language, he said to the effect that,

“I don’t love writing at all. Neither do I like being called a writer. I write only because I have to. To me, writing is a job I have to do and is something that brings me the money I need.”

My comment: Writing is what makes Han Han. And yet he doesn’t like it. He only talks about writing like a high school dropout who can’t seem to understand why he’s now a writer.

“How well a writer writes depends on what books he or she has read in the past.”

My comment: In other interviews, he said that reading books by others is not necessary for the writers and they can always rely on information they get on their own and then builds it into his books.

“All books are created equal. There is no such a thing as one being better than the other in terms of the thought they can provoke. The priority of a book is not the message, big or small, its writer wants to convey, but the feelings it can arouse in the reader.”

My comment: Bill Gates and Steve Jobs had been outstanding students when they decided to leave school. However, Han Han was mighty different. He was virtually kicked out of high school because of his extremely poor academic performance (seven subjects failed, including Chinese). His words can be translated as follows: Though I was kicked out of high school because of poor school scores, I’m as good as or better than those who have attended college or university because I’m now nonetheless just as rich, famous, and successful.

As I see it, the essence, or the message, of a book is more important than its other aspects. Great books can be read by generations of thinking readers who are willing to read them several times. Han’s ideal books are for people who prefer sensual pleasures and don’t want to use their brain too much while reading.

“I don’t like the pretentious or affected way of writing. Writers should be themselves and write directly what they actually feel and think.”

My comment: He says so simply because he doesn’t know how to write like a real writer. To him, putting words on paper itself is writer’s writing. If this was the case, an illiterate person could dictate a long epic.

“My books are not perfect. There are lots of loopholes I intentionally left there to be found.”

My comment: This is very true indeed. His biggest loophole is that some of this books published under his name were not written by him.

“I don’t know what Confucianism is. I don’t know what it or other traditional Chinese isms are about. I’ve even never read A Dream in Red Mansions (红楼梦). I don’t know who is who in the novel.”

My comment: He knows nothing about them. So his ghostwriters helped him incorporate those isms and classics into the works published under his name.

“I spend thousands of yuan each month in buying newspapers and read them.”

My comment: Calculated at 2,000 yuan, 2 yuan per copy of newspaper, and 12 pages per copy, that would be 12,000 pages. Then, he would have no time for writing, racing or womanizing.

“I like the books by writers active after the May 4th, 1919 Movement because of their particular attention to writing elegant and charming Chinese.”

My comment: The period leading to and several decades after May 4th, 1919 Movement was a transition of written Chinese from Classic to Vernacular. It’s a period of experiments and nothing was perfect. Though the new ideas introduced in the early Vernacular Chinese from abroad were transforming, the language itself was anything but elegant or charming.

“If I don’t like a writer, I won’t like his works.”

My comment: So Han can refuse to eat the egg simply because he doesn’t like the hen.

“I don’t know the intention with which I write my books.”

My comment: Because it’s not he who wrote them and he has never carefully read them.

“As a writer, I don’t need to read novels by others. What I need is information. I have my own brain and I know what novel I want to write. I don’t need to read novels by others to get some inspirations about how I can better write my novels.”

My comment: As a genius, he never needs to learn from others. And yet as an average boy, he must read books by others so that he can write.



Please comment on the original post


Thursday, February 23, 2012

Central Committee of the Chinese Communist Party Decision Concerning Deepening Cultural Structural Reform

One day after I had posted the sixth installment of my “Decision” translation (see headline of this post), a complete (as far as I can see) translation went online at China Copyright and Media, a blog run by a sworn translator of the Chinese language at the Courts of Hasselt and Leuven  (the Netherlands).

I’m feeling no temptation to continue my own series of translation (there would have been another quarter of the document to be translated here), but I think it has been a good training, as far as the nomenclature is concerned – to lighten things up, I translated some older cultural.-soft-power documents along the way, and knowing the way the CCP refers to these issues has been useful.

You may either enjoy comparing the two translations now, and make me aware of contradictions between them, or you may simply use the translation there as a source of information. I’m not going to compare all of my translation to date with Rogier Creemers‘, (the China Copyright and Media blogger), but I’ll probably do so when making use of certain paragraphs of the central committee document in new contexts.

My (incomplete) translation series, from October to February:

1 – “Culture” Document published »
2 – Part 2 »
3 – Part 3 »
4 – Part 4 »
5 – Part 5 »
6 – Correct Guidance of Public Opinion »
7 – Beautiful Melodies »
8 – Online Guidance of Public Opinion »
9 – Arranging the Classical Records »
10 – Linking Cultural Industries to Nat. Economy »
11 – Go Global, and no Porn »

Sunday, February 12, 2012

17th Central Committee’s “Culture Document” – 11: Go Global, and no Porn!

« Previous leg of this translation: part 10, Linking the Cultural Industries to the National Economy

The following is a translation of the fifth chapter of the CCP Central Committee’s “cultural document”. For more background concerning the document, see that previous post.

Main Link:

7) Deepen Reform and Opening Further, Accelerate and Establish Systems which are Conducive to the Prosperous Development of Culture


Culture guides the mood of our times, and is the area most in need of innovation. We must firmly grasp the correct direction, accelerate the promotion of cultural mechanisms, built sound leadership by party committees, administrative management, industrial self-regulation, social supervision, enterprises, institutions and units (danwei) which operate in accordance with the law, based on cultural management systems and vigorous cultural production systems, bring positive market factors in to play in the process of cultural resource allocation, make culture get past [old] patterns, and add strong dynamic force to prosperous cultural development.


a) Deepen reform of state-owned cultural units. By focusing on establishing a system of modern enterprise, accelerate and promote the reform of operational cultural units, and foster mainframes in conformity with the market. Specify the cultural units’ characters and functions scientifically, distinguish between them, classify them, take a progressive approach, open them gradually, promote normal state-owned cultural ensembles and troupes, press products which are not about current affairs or politics, [ownership transformation of news websites (?) – 新闻网站转企改制], expand the fruits of publication, distribution, and the film industry’s reform, accelerate their transformation into companies and public limited companies, perfect corporate governance structures in line with modern enterprise system requirements, and reflecting the cultural enterprises’ characteristic assets and operations and management organization. Innovate the investment and financial systems, support state-owned cultural companies’ as they face the capital markets, and support them in attracting social capital, and in carrying out joint-stock transformation. Keep the attributes of public benefit in mind, strengthen the service functions, increase vital development, comprehensively promote cultural units’ human resources and income allocation, social insurance systems’ reform, clear service specifications and the strengthening of performance evaluation in mind. Innovate public cultural service facilities’ operational mechanisms, attract personalities who represent society, professionals, and apply grassroots participation and management. Promote the progressive perfection of party publications’, radio, and television management and operational mechanisms. Promote the application of entrepreneurial management at the units, such as normal current-affairs publishing houses, non-profit publishing houses, ensembles and troupes who represent national characteristics and the country’s artistic level, enhance exposure to the markets, and the ability to serve the masses.


b) A sound, modern culture market system. To promote cultural products and key elements floating reasonably all over the country, an orderly, modern market system for unified and open competition must be built. The focus must be on the development of books and other publications, digital audio and video products, performing arts and entertainment, television series, cartoons, animation, and [computer] games, and similar markets, for the further perfection of a comprehensive international Chinese platform on fairs and exhibitions, etc. Develop chain operation, commodity circulation and distribution, e-commerce and other modern organizations and forms, accelerate the building of large-scale distribution enterprises and logistical bases for cultural products, build distributional networks for cultural products that understand urban and rural needs, with the big cities as the centers, with small- and medium-sized cities complementing them. Accelerate the development of property rights [or ownership rights], copyright, and key markets like those for technology and information, carefully manage major exchange [markets] for cultural property rights, norms, and transactions of cultural assets and artistic works. Strengthen the trade’s organizational building, and build sound intermediary structures.


c) Innovate the cultural management system. Deepen reform of administrative and management systems, accelerate the transformation of government functions, strengthen the functions of policy adjustment, market supervision, social management, and public service, promote the separation of politics and enterprise, separation of politics and business, and provide a reasonable order to the relationship between government and cultural enterprises and units, through control and adjustment. Perfect personnel management, operational management, asset management and lead it into the direction of a combined management system of state-owned cultural assets [or – not sure about the correct translation here – a state-owned management system]. Build a sound and comprehensive administrative and law-enforcement structure for the culture market, and promote a sub-provincial and sub-city administration and responsibility mainstay. Accelerate cultural legislation, define and perfect the laws and regulations concerning the protection of public cultural services, the rejuvenation of the cultural industries, cultural market management, and increase the legal level of cultural construction. Adhere to the management and organizational system, implement principles of who is responsible, and who is in charge, strictly apply policies of cultural capital, cultural enterprise, access and non-access to the cultural product markets, comprehensively apply legal, administrative, economic and technological means to increase management efficiency. Deepen the implementation of “Brush pornography away, and crack down on illegal publications”, perfect cultural market management, firmly remove decadent cultural garbage which poisons the peoples’ minds, conscientiously build a market order which ensures national cultural safety.


d) Perfect security system policies policy guarantee mechanisms. Ensure that growth in public financing of cultural construction exceeds normal growth in public finance revenues, increase the share of cultural expenses in public spending. Expand the range of public financing, perfect financial input methods, strengthen fund management, increase the efficiency of funding used, and ensure cultural service systems’ construction and operation. Implement and improve cultural economic policies, support societal organizations, organizations, donations to and start-ups of non-profit cultural activities, guide non-profit organizations to provide public cultural products and services. [] Establish a national cultural development fund, expand the scale of related cultural funds and special funds, increase the share of all kinds of lottery-generated means for the funding of non-profit undertakings. Continue the use of coherent policies on the reform of the cultural system, and support the transformation of state-owned cultural units for another five years.


e) Promote the Chinese culture’s process of going global. Carry out foreign cultural exchange on multiple channels, in multiple forms, and on multiple levels, broaden participation in the global dialog of civilizations, promote learning from each other, strengthen the inspiration that comes from Chinese culture, and Chinese culture’s influence, for the joint safeguarding of cultural diversity. Innovate ways and means of propaganda abroad, strengthen [the right to speak ones opinion – or the right to dominate others through words: 增强国际话语权], react appropriately to foreign concerns, enhance the international community’s basic understanding of our country, its values, its path of development, understanding for and knowledge of its domestic and foreign policies, and let them discover the our country’s civilizational, democratic, open, and progressive image. Implement the project of our culture going global, improve and support the policies and implementation of cultural products and services going global, support major media organizations in setting up overseas branches, foster a number of external cultural enterprises and intermediary organizations which are globally competitive, improve dubbing, recommendation and introduction, advisory and similar support mechanisms, and gain access to international cultural markets. Strengthen Chinese overseas cultural centers and Confucius Institutes, encourage academia and artistic organization which reflect our country’s level to play a constructive role within relevant international organizations, and organize the translation of outstanding artistic works and cultural quality products. Build mechanisms for cultural exchange, combine governmental exchanges and non-governmental exchanges, bring into play the role of non-governmental cultural enterprise, cultural non-profit organizations in international cultural exchanges, and support overseas Chinese in actively launching sino-foreign cultural exchanges. Establish cultural exchange mechanisms for young foreigners, and establish an award for contributions to the international dissemination of Chinese culture.


f) Actively absorb and learn from outstanding foreign cultural achievements. Adhere to the principles of self-dependance, self-regardness, to learning from every experience that helps to strengthen the building of our country’s socialist construction, from all positive achievements that can enrich our people’s cultural life, from everything that is conducive to our country’s cultural activities, and to its cultural management concepts and mechanisms. Strengthen our country’s intellectual fields, its talents, and its acquisition of technology. Attract foreign investment into fields and enterprises that are designed for this by rules and regulations, and guarantee the investors’ lawful rights and interests.Encourage cultural units to enter cooperation projects with powerful foreign cultural institutions, learn from advanced production technolgies, and from advanced management experience. Encourage foreign-invested enterprises to carry out cultural-technological research and development, and develop outsourcing. Develop international cooperation in the protection of intellectual property rights.


To be continued.

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