Translation: Searching for a Spokesperson

A video clip that recently circulated the Chinese internet satirized the rhetorical style of China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, whose spokespersons are known to rely on stock phrases when deflecting journalists’ questions about the Chinese Communist Party and its policies. The clip has been censored in China, but is still making rounds on Twitter, and is archived on CDT Chinese’s YouTube account. The dialogue portrays the leader of the “Great Song Nation” interviewing his final candidate for Privy Council Spokesperson. Despite the frustration that the candidate’s diversions cause the leader, in the end they appear to win him the job. The applicant’s responses include several phrases that commonly come up in regular MoFA press conferences—for example, drawing attention to the rapid developmental achievements of the PRC’s recent history, a plea for foreigners to “stop meddling” in China’s “internal affairs,” and the dismissal of the topic in question as a “rumor” meant to “slander” China—and has been translated and added to the video subtitles:

Assistant: The final applicant in the recruitment assembly, Liu Gang to the stage

Formidable

Liu Gang: I pay my respect, Master

LeaderHow can you have the nerve to apply for the job of Privy Council Spokesperson when your personal conduct is so dishonorable?

Liu Gang: Master, please don’t believe the rumor and slander

Leader: I ask you, at home have you beaten your wife?

Liu Gang: At home she couldn’t even get enough to eat, and now the living conditions at our house have improved considerably

LeaderI ask you, do you beat your wife?

Liu Gang: The developmental achievements of our household are plainly visible to the whole village

LeaderI ask you, do you beat your wife?

Liu Gang: Master, Old Wang from next door frequently beats his wife, why don’t you ask him?

LeaderI asked you, do you beat your wife?

Liu Gang: Master, at your house has a wife ever been beaten? According to my investigation, your great-grandfather beat his wife over a hundred years ago

LeaderI asked you, do you beat your wife?

Liu Gang:Master, I’ve already written “no wife beating” into our household rules

Leader: But do you follow those rules?

Liu Gang: The household rules are the internal affairs of our home, other people have no right to meddle

LeaderI ask you, do you beat your wife?

Liu Gang: I denounce all wife-beating conduct

Leader: I asked you, do you beat your wife? 

Liu Gang: Your question is very irresponsible. Have you been to our home, do you understand our home? I invite you to visit our home as a guest, and see with your own eyes

Leader: Why do you beat your wife?

Liu Gang: Your question is brimming with prejudice against my home, I can’t understand where this arrogance comes from. Our home accepts all suggestions offered in goodwill, but refuses any type of warrantless accusation. So I say, ask a reasonable question, or don’t ask another.   

Leader: Very good, very good! You are the one I want, the Privy Council’s very best spokesperson.

Last week, after the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of China’s annual survey results showed a decline in reporting conditions in 2017, Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying exercised a similar technique when questioned about the findings.

See also CDT’s translation of a satirical flowchart to guide editorial stances expressed by the state-affiliated Global Times on international news issues, which circulated China’s internet in 2016, or browse the “Censorship and Propaganda” section of CDT’s Grass-mud Horse lexicon.