Living in a community of China watchers, we are unceasingly assaulted by words and phrases for which definitions are unclear, or ambiguous, or over which there is controversy or disagreement. And so bearing Confucius' admonition that the most important thing for understanding China is "to call things by their right names," Kaiser and Jeremy set out this week to do exactly that with a show all about rectifying names in Chinese.

With this aim in mind, we solicited a list of words and phrases needing such rectification (everything from "50 center" to "middle class"), and found two great guests at whom we could throw the pressing questions of what on earth do these words actually mean? Putting themselves in the difficult position of answering are thus Rogier Creemers, creator of the China Copyright and Media blog, and David Moser, who is not only director of the CET immersion program in Beijing but also a mean jazz pianist to boot.

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 said on
December 22, 2013


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 said on
December 24, 2013
Re "regime": What's wrong with simply "the government"? It is equally neutral, but more universally fitting than "the administration". And sometimes you can refer to "the state" - although that also carries a slight negative connotation the same way "the feds" does in American English.

Re "propaganda": I think "PR" fits quite well in various different cases - governmental, commercial and otherwise. Other times, "communications" would do, e. g. "宣传主任" = “director of communications”.

BTW, during the "propaganda" discussion, there was a lot of confusion among the panelists regarding the difference between the CCP and the government: The government has never had a Ministry of Propaganda, but the CCP has a Department of Publicity; and the State Council Information Office is the English translation for 国务院新闻办, whereas 中共中央对外宣传办 is translated as the International Communication Office of the CPC Central Committee -- the two are "one organization with two designations", one governmental and one CPC.
 said on
December 27, 2013
@wgj: I was somewhat facetious with my comment on the Chinese name of the SCIO, which can indeed be translated as 国信办. However, the point that I do think is important is that we need to talk more about the connections between Party and State, especially where in the case of the SCIO, for all intents and purposes, it is the same organisation. I don't mind the SCIO being a Party department, but let's be open and clear about it, so we can better discuss their role and functioning.
 said on
December 31, 2013
@rogiercreemers: And I'm saying that SCIO/ICO is just one of many cases of "one organization with two designations", of which the arguably most important one being the Central Military Commission - of the CPC and of the PRC.

People - and even the official state media - usually just refer to the CMC without specifying which, but sometimes it matters: There have been instances where actions by the (unspecified) CMC (or some of its members respectively) has been accused of lacking legitimacy because parts of the rights and responsibilities regarding the action in question is institutionally held but the CPC's CMC, and other parts by the PRC's CMC, and those different parts cannot be simply fused together to legitimize the action.

I once read a quite interesting and somewhat convincing analysis regarding such a case. Sorry I don't have the link for it - maybe you can find it yourself.
 said on
January 23, 2014
Great stuff!I really hope you guys can make another episode to discuss the meaning of words. There are lots of words left and they need urgent clarification.
Mark Lesson Studied