David Wertime

Voices — Decoding China's Diplomatic Speak

Diplomatic speak is easy. Now you try it!

There’s been no better time to learn Chinese diplomacy-speak. With fled Chinese dissident Chen Guangcheng likely now in United States custody, bystanders (including those at Tea Leaf Nation) have quickly begun to speculate on the incident’s diplomatic impact on U.S.-Sino relations. 

But it’s not enough to know what China is saying, if a reader cannot know what China actually means. Luckily, Shanghai-based microblogger Lu Guoping (@鲁国平先生) has come to the rescue, tweeting his own linguistic analysis. It’s a bit less sunny than one might hope:

“Analysis of Foreign Ministry Spokesperson-Speak:

Cordial and friendly discourse: Talks not bad.

Frank discourse: There are big differences, and we’re unable to communicate.

Exchange of opinions: Basically each states their position, with no agreement reached.

The two sides have a full exchange of opinions: The two sides argued fiercely.

The two sides’ understanding was enhanced: There are big differences.

[We are] seriously following [the matter]: Perhaps we will interfere, but it’s more likely there is nothing we can do.

[We] express great indignation: We’re at the end of our rope!” {{Chinese}}[[Chinese]]外交发言用词解析 1、亲切友好交谈——谈的不错;2、坦率交谈——分歧很大,无法沟通;3、交换了意见——基本各说各的,没有达成协议;4、双方充分交换了意见——双方吵得厉害;5、增进了双方的了解——分歧很大;6、严重关切——可能要干预,但很可能歇菜;7表示极大愤慨——拿人家真没辙![[Chinese]]

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David Wertime

David is the co-founder and co-editor of Tea Leaf Nation. He first encountered China as a Peace Corps Volunteer in 2001 and has lived and worked in Fuling, Chongqing, Beijing, and Hong Kong. He is a ChinaFile fellow at the Asia Society and an associate fellow at the Truman National Security Project.