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作者: 来源: 日期:2016-12-05 9:34:11

Friend or foe? Two centuries of mixed emotions in China-US ties





Beijing’s official media revels in chances to present the American political system in the worst possible light — and they have never had an easier time doing so. When I visited Shanghai at the start of November, I expected to see television reports on the unusually nasty US presidential campaign with the same “we told you so” feel as past coverage of government shutdowns, high school shootings and police violence against unarmed African-Americans. China Central Television did not disappoint. And yet once again I was left with a sense of the complex range of responses elicited by news of distress and dysfunction across the Pacific, in a land whose name in Chinese is composed of a character meaning “beautiful” and the character for “country”. Amid the schadenfreude was a genuine sense of let-down, the kind one feels upon discovering how deeply flawed an idealised figure really is.



One thing that John Pomfret does very effectively in The Beautiful Country and the Middle Kingdom is help us appreciate just how long Chinese views of America have been shaped, as they are now, by a mix of feelings including admiration, attraction, disappointment and disdain. Pomfret, a veteran journalist and author of the well-received Chinese Lessons: Five Classmates and the Story of the New China (2006), reminds us that we are dealing with a love-hate relationship that dates back to the years following the American Revolution. During the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911), for example, officials vacillated between viewing Americans as just another set of bloodthirsty barbarians, intent on bringing evil products such as opium and the dangerous creed of Christianity into the empire, and seeing them as a people who stood apart from the rapacious pack. This was due to such things as Washington’s leaders resisting the temptation to seek formal control of pieces of the empire in the way that their counterparts in London, Paris and, eventually, Tokyo did.

潘文(John Pomfret)的《美丽国度与中央王国》(The Beautiful Country and the Middle Kingdom)一书在一个地方做得很有效,那就是帮我们认识到中国人对美国的看法长期受到敬佩、吸引、失望和鄙视等各种情感交织的影响,当下也不例外。潘文是一位资深记者,曾在2006年发表反响不错的著作《中国教训:五位同学及新中国的故事》(Chinese Lessons: Five Classmates and the Story of the New China)。他提醒我们,我们是在谈论一段可以追溯到美国独立战争之后岁月的一段爱恨纠缠的关系。以清朝(1644-1911)为例,中国官员态度摇摆,一会儿把美国人视作又一拨嗜血的野蛮人,意图将鸦片等邪恶商品和危险的基督教信仰带入天朝,一会儿把美国人看做有别于掠夺者群体的人。后者是因为华盛顿的领导人们抵挡住了诱惑,没有像他们在伦敦、巴黎,最后还要东京的同行那样,企图正式控制大清帝国的部分版图。


The Beautiful Country and the Middle Kingdom, though containing clear arguments, including the idea that there is a related love-hate dynamic in American views of China, is ultimately a biographically driven work. Its strength lies in the cumulative effect of seeing recurring patterns revealed via skilfully drawn character sketches. Some of its subjects are famous, such as Sun Yat-sen, while others are familiar to specialists but otherwise little known in the west. Early on, for example, comes the story of Hong Xiuquan, a failed candidate for the imperial exams who had hallucinations shaped by tracts distributed in China after the first opium war (1839-1842) by a “fire-and-brimstone preacher from backwoods Tennessee” named Issachar Jacox Roberts. Hong’s Biblically infused visions convinced him that he had a mission to exterminate the monstrous Manchus of the Qing ruling family. He led an uprising known as the Taiping Rebellion that overlapped temporally with the American civil war but had a death toll many times higher.

《美丽国度与中央王国》虽论点清晰(包括提出这样一个论点,即美国人对中国的看法也存在相关的爱恨交织的格局),但归根结底是一部由人物传记驱动的著作。其长处在于透过娴熟勾画出的人物形象,让读者看到重复模式的累积效应。有些描写对象很有名,比如孙中山,有些在西方只有专家才熟悉,民众所知甚少,比如,该书在较前面的章节介绍了洪秀全的故事。第一次鸦片战争(18391842)后,“来自田纳西州边远地区的狂热传教士”罗孝全(Issachar Jacox Roberts)在中国散发宗教宣传手册,这些手册对科举落败的洪秀全的幻觉产生影响,使洪秀全深信,他负有斩妖除魔的使命,要消灭清朝满族统治者。他领导的太平天国起义与美国独立战争在时间上重叠,但死亡人数是后者的很多倍。广州翻译公司。


A much more internationally recognisable Chinese figure discussed here is Mao Zedong (1893-1976). Pomfret first presents Mao as a youthful admirer of George Washington and Theodore Roosevelt who placed “his hopes in the United States” as a country that, headed by enemy of empires Woodrow Wilson, would protect China from Japanese threats to its sovereignty. When Wilson backed the Treaty of Versailles, which gave Japan control over parts of Shandong formerly held by Germany, however, Mao “poured scorn on the Western powers, including America, calling them a ‘bunch of robbers’ who ‘cynically championed self-determination’ ”.

在该书所讨论对象中,国际上知名度更高的中国人是毛泽东(1893-1976)。潘文首先介绍道,年轻时的毛泽东很崇拜乔治•华盛顿(George Washington)和西奥多•罗斯福(Theodore Roosevelt),他对“美国寄予厚望”,希望对方——在帝国主义的敌人伍德罗•威尔逊(Woodrow Wilson)的带领下——能保护中国免遭日本威胁主权。但当威尔逊支持《凡尔赛条约》(Treaty of Versailles)——将德国占领的山东部分地区交由日本控制——时,毛泽东“对包括美国在内的西方大国嗤之以鼻,称他们是‘一类的强盗……好个民族自决!我以为直是不要脸!’。”


Mao reappears at various stages later in the book, most intriguingly during a period lasting from the late 1960s to the early 1970s, when his attitude towards the US ricocheted again. In 1969, Beijing’s propagandists, taking their lead from the all-powerful chairman, denounced Richard Nixon as “the jittery chieftain of US imperialism”, leading a nation “beset with profound crises”. Just two years later, Mao was angling to partner with the Americans against Moscow, Beijing’s one-time ally turned sworn enemy. Again taking Mao’s lead, the media treated a 1971 visit to China by American ping pong players, which laid the groundwork for Nixon’s historic trip to the country, “as if it were a moon walk”. Skipping over recent demonisation of the US during the Korean war, broadcasters asked the “hundreds of millions of viewers” of CCTV’s nightly newscast to remember this: “For a long time, friendship has existed between the Chinese and American peoples.”

毛在本书描写的不同历史阶段多次出现,其中最有意思的是从上世纪60年代末到70年代初的一段时期。当时他对美国的态度再度转折。1969年,北京的宣传官员还在最高领袖毛主席的授意下,谴责理查德•尼克松(Richard Nixon)是惶惶不可终日的美帝国主义头子,领导着一个危机深重的国家。但短短两年后,毛泽东就开始想方设法与美国人联手对付莫斯科,后者是北京曾经的盟友,那时变成了死敌。同样在毛的授意下,中国媒体对美国乒乓球队来华访问大加渲染,仿佛是在报道月球行走。中央电视台的主播不再像朝鲜战争期间那样继续妖魔化美国,而是要求晚间新闻的“亿万观众”记住:中美两国人民的友谊源远流长。最终,乒乓外交被证明为尼克松的历史性访华之旅奠定了基础。广州翻译公司。


Such historical examples will make readers of The Beautiful Country and the Middle Kingdom less shocked than they might otherwise have been when confronted by mixed signals in the modern era. They may not be surprised to learn that Xi Jinping, the current head of the Communist party, lashes out at the pernicious influence of American ideas — yet sent his daughter to Harvard. Or that a video made by the Communist Youth League accusing Washington of fomenting “colour revolution” chaos went viral last summer among digitally savvy young patriots — some of whom are such fervent fans of The Big Bang Theory that they seek out the Cheesecake Factory outlet featured in the show when travelling through California.

当《美丽国度与中央王国》的读者面对当今中国发出的浮云遮目般的复杂信号时,书中的历史先例有助于减轻他们的错愕感。当看到中共现任领导人习近平一方面抨击美国思想的流毒,一方面把自己的女儿送到哈佛大学(Harvard)时,他们或许不会感到惊讶。或是,共青团制作的一个指责华盛顿煽动“颜色革命”、制造混乱的视频,去年夏天在熟悉数字生活的青年爱国者中疯传,但他们中的一些人同时又是《生活大爆炸》(The Big Bang Theory)如此狂热的粉丝,以至于当他们到加州旅行时还去找寻剧中的“芝士蛋糕工厂”(Cheesecake Factory)


Moving across the Pacific, we find similar pendulum swings and contradictions, often within the minds of the same individuals. One thing to remember in tracking the American side of the story, Pomfret stresses — as have others who have worked this terrain well in the past, such as the journalist Harold Isaacs and the historian Jonathan Spence — is the special importance of dreams of access to many millions of potential consumers, converts, or both. China has often seemed to Americans just one decade or one good leader away from buying our goods en masse or embracing either Christianity or democracy. Whenever the folly of this fantasy becomes clear, it fuels frustration.

在太平洋彼岸,我们会发现类似的摇摆和矛盾,而且往往存在于同一人群的意识中。就像曾在这一领域有过精辟论述的记者伊罗生(Harold Isaacs)、历史学家史景迁(Jonathan Spence)等人一样,潘文强调,在追踪美中故事的美国一面时需要记住的是,接触数以百万计的消费者或皈依者(或两者皆有)这一梦想的特殊重要性。美国人经常认为,中国再过10年或是只差有一个英明的领导人就会大量购买美国商品,或者接受基督教或民主。而每当这种一厢情愿的荒谬之处显现出来时,就会加剧沮丧情绪。广州翻译公司。


This doorstopper of a book — at close to 700 pages, it needed to be long to do justice to the author’s ambitions but does drag occasionally near the end, in spite of the continued liveliness of Pomfret’s prose — appears at what is likely to be a turning or at least inflection point in the history of US-China relations. Each country will soon be headed by a strongman determined to make his country “great again”, to borrow the phrase of Donald Trump; long-time patterns in alliances had already begun to shift, seen for example in closer ties between Manila and Beijing; and, in contrast to the many past periods when Americans rooted for China to become stronger, Chinese economic and political might is causing anxiety. Where will these developments lead?

这本书篇幅巨大,有近700页;当然,作者的雄心意味着它需要这么长,但在接近结尾的个别部分略显拖沓,尽管潘文的文笔始终很精彩。该书很可能发表于美中关系历史的一个转折点,或者至少是一个拐点。不久之后,两国都将由一个决心要让自己的国家“再度伟大”——借用唐纳德•特朗普(Donald Trump)的话——的强人来领导;长期的同盟格局已开始发生变化,马尼拉与北京改善关系就体现了这一点;在历史上的许多时期,美国人都支持中国变得更强大,与此形成对比的是,如今中国的经济和政治实力正在引发焦虑。这些事态将向什么方向发展?


No one and no book can tell us, but for two reasons this work is useful as we think about what lies ahead. First, even though his focus is not on this theme, Pomfret ends up reminding us of how often the waxing and waning of friendship between Washington and Beijing has been linked to a development somewhere else. Moscow’s shift away from revering Stalin, with whom Mao identified, played a pivotal part in making possible the Chinese leader’s eventual meeting with Nixon. We would do well to keep in mind that Xi and Trump will not be the only actors shaping this crucial bilateral relationship.



In addition, the many contradictory currents in past American commentaries on Chinese themes can help us put Trump’s rhetoric on China into perspective. Though the president-elect is the first major political figure to dismiss climate change as a hoax perpetrated by Beijing, he is generally less of an outlier with regard to China than on many subjects — even if he seems unable to make up his mind on how to view Xi and company. One minute, he seems to be reviving old Red Menace notions by accusing the Communist party of working nefariously to undermine the US economy. In the next, however, he dubs the peaceful gatherings at Tiananmen Square that preceded the massacre of June 4 1989 as a “riot” — the term that Xi and company like to use to make the killings seem justified — rather than calling them protests or demonstrations.



There are Americans very different from Trump, from pundits to academics to businesspeople, who also seem of two minds when it comes to China’s current autocrats, and who make comments that update old tropes. Bill Gates has criticised Beijing for failing to protect foreign intellectual property, for example, and other tech titans have expressed frustration at censorship of the internet and Communist party efforts to keep their companies out of the Chinese market. Yet in 2015, Microsoft gave a visiting Xi the red-carpet treatment, hosting a gathering at its Seattle headquarters that included many of the most visible Silicon Valley chief executives. Tim Cook of Apple, a wildly popular brand in China, and Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook, which is currently banned there, were both photographed beaming alongside the Chinese leader. Even in our age of very new media, very old dreams of a massive market for the Beautiful Country’s goods lying just across the Pacific can exert a powerful hold on the American entrepreneurial imagination.

从评论人士、学者,到商人,跟特朗普完全不同的一些美国人,在看待中国当前的威权领导人时似乎也有两种心态,也会发表与过去言论相左的评论。例如,比尔•盖茨(Bill Gates)批评北京未能保护外国的知识产权,其他技术巨头也对互联网审查和中共不让它们进入中国市场表示失望。但在2015年,微软用红地毯接待了到访的习近平,并在西雅图总部举行了一次有许多最知名硅谷首席执行官到场的聚会。在中国受到狂热追捧的苹果公司(Apple)的蒂姆•库克(Tim Cook)和目前遭屏蔽的Facebook的马克•扎克伯格(Mark Zuckerberg),都曾笑眯眯地站在中国领导人身边拍照。即使在当今新媒体盛行的时代,太平洋彼岸有一个让美丽国度的产品畅销的巨大市场——这个旧梦依然可以强有力地抓住美国企业家的想象力。