As a kid, you knew something was going bad when your parents started candy coating things.
Mommy, why is there an ambulance in the driveway?
“Daddy has a little tummy ache.”
Well, it’s the same thing with Chinese rhetoric, and world affairs. I’ve talked here before about President Xi Jinping’s speeches, remark that their stiff, platitudinous language makes them “like a wet blanket on a long-suffering yak.”
But there are wet blankets, and then there are wet blankets (as I don’t have to tell my fellow yaks).
And the latest Xi speech I read is woolen, and soaked. Delivered via video at the Boao Forum for Asia Annual Conference April 21, the speech begins:
As an ancient Chinese adage goes, “One must not change his commitment or give up his pursuit even in the face of danger and risk.” A review of human history teaches us that the more difficult things get, the greater the need grows to stay confident. Problems are not to be afraid of, as it is one problem after another that has driven the progress of human society. No difficulties could ever stop the wheel of history. Faced with the many challenges, we must not lose confidence, hesitate or flinch. Instead, we must firm up confidence and press ahead against all odds.
That is either the worst-written ancient adage I’ve ever read, or the worst translated one. Xi continues:
For us to break through the mist and embrace a bright future, the biggest strength comes from cooperation and the most effective way is through solidarity. Over the past two years and more, the international community has been working extremely hard to respond to the COVID-19 challenge and boost global recovery and development. The hardships and challenges are yet another reminder that humanity is a community with a shared future where all people rise and fall together and that all countries need to follow the trend of the times featuring peace, development and win-win cooperation, move in the direction of building a community with a shared future for mankind and rise to challenges and build a bright future through cooperation.
Having anesthetized his audience by gas, Xi tries to kill us by needle. These next sentences sound like policy statements but they’re just more ether, in a different form:
We should stay committed to building an open world economy, stay on top of the dominant trend of economic globalization, increase macro policy coordination, turn to science and technology for more growth drivers, keep global industrial and supply chains stable, and prevent serious negative spillovers from policy adjustments in some countries, all in an effort to promote balanced, coordinated and inclusive global development. We should follow a people-centered approach, place development and people’s well-being high on the agenda, and when policies are implemented, measures are adopted and actions are taken, always give top priority to bettering people’s lives.
We need to work together to maintain peace and stability in the world. An ancient Chinese philosopher observed, “Stability brings a country prosperity while instability leads a country to poverty.”
Countries around the world are like passengers aboard the same ship who share the same destiny. For the ship to navigate the storm and sail toward a bright future, all passengers must pull together. The thought of throwing anyone overboard is simply not acceptable.
And once more to the ancients we go:
Many Asian proverbs describe the value of solidarity and cooperation, such as “climb the hill together and go down the ravine together” and “sugarcane and lemongrass grow in dense clumps.”
Let me conclude with an old Chinese saying, “Keep walking and one will not be daunted by a thousand miles; make constant efforts and one will not be intimidated by a thousand tasks.” As long as we join hands and never slacken in efforts, we will build great synergy through win-win cooperation, overcome the various challenges along the way, and usher in a brighter and better future for humanity.