The three no’s of President Hu

This is one of the articles from The star that catch my interest. I wonder why the writers think Malaysia need to "bu zheteng" too.  Maybe all of us need it, to enable us lead the lives we want.

Sunday February 22, 2009


IT’S yet another interesting northern Chinese phrase – bu zheteng – which has, this time, created an international debate!

The bilingual local and foreign media, translators, officials and academics have attempted to interpret and translate “bu zheteng”, which was used by President Hu Jintao in his speech at the 30th anniversary of the third plenary session of the 11th Party Central Committee recently.

Hu’s use of a colloquial phrase drew audible gasps and laughter from the audience at the Great Hall of the People.

The General Secretary of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee said “as long as we bu dongyao (don’t waver), bu xiedai (don’t relent), bu zheteng and as long as we firmly push forward reform and opening up … we are certain to be able to successfully realise this grand blueprint and achieve the goals we are striving for”.

Many consider this a rare exception to the generally serious and formal Hu.

Zheteng is a very popular phrase among the northern people and is commonly used here. It means to do something over and over again in a messy way with little results.

The translators just used the pinyin bu zheteng, which brought another round of laughter in the hall.

Even the official Xinhua news agency left the phrase out of its English dispatches and simply used the pinyin bu zheteng.

Hu’s three no’s – bu dongyao, bu xiedai, and bu zheteng – have perhaps become the talk of the town overnight!

“How would you translate this term?” asked my friend, a former journalist who is now doing her PhD at the Peking University.

Another journalist friend tried: “Don’t get sidetracked.”

We then discussed the various translations for bu zheteng, like don’t flip-flop and don’t sway back and forth.

Other translations from the Internet include “no dithering”, “no major changes”, “avoid futile actions”, “stop making trouble and wasting time” and “no self-consuming political movements”.

But we all know these translations are not precise and remarkable enough to fully convey the essence and connotations of zheteng.

So the task to translate the term has really zheteng (troubled) most of the local and foreign media!

Well, bu zheteng could also mean “no trouble making’’!

According to The People’s Daily, Ren Xiaoping, ambassador of the People’s Republic of China to the Republic of Namibia, suggested a translation which she believes is more appropriate: avoid self-inflicted setbacks.

Many academics have also been discussing the topic and attempting to interpret Hu’s rare break from official speech.

Some see the act as a deliberate attempt to show “the wisdom of the CPC’’, as the phrase’s connotations have provided much space for all kinds of interpretations by various parties.

After all these zheteng, the State Council held a press conference where its Information Office Minister Wang Chen said: “General Secretary Hu Jintao’s important speech at the 30th anniversary of the third plenary session of the 11th Party Central Committee was profound in its ideological content, but it also contained vivid language drawn from the masses.

“I too noticed that when the General Secretary mentioned ‘don’t waver, don’t slacken, don’t get sidetracked,’ the audience chuckled in understanding, showing that they truly endorsed President Hu’s words.”

Among others, responses from many netizens and the public are that “the laobaixing (ordinary people) just want to live a peaceful life with no untoward incident”.

I think “don’t zheteng” is not only good for China but for my country and the world too!

So, please don’t zheteng!


About kchew

an occasional culturalist
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