"Hurt(s) the feelings of the Chinese people"

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Spokespersons for the government of the People's Republic of China (PRC) often complain that the words or actions of individuals or groups from other nations "hurt the feelings of the Chinese people".  This is true even when those individuals or groups are speaking or acting on behalf of some segment of the Chinese population (e.g., political prisoners, Tibetans, Uyghurs, Falun Gong adherents, people whose houses have been forcibly demolished, farmers, and so forth).  A typical cause for invoking the "hurt(s) the feelings of the Chinese people" circumlocution would be for the head of state of a country to meet with the Dalai Lama or Rebiya Kadeer.  A good example is Mexican President Calderon's recent meeting with the Dalai Lama, which the PRC government denounced in extremely harsh terms.  The vitriolic rebuke led one commentator to refer to the PRC denunciation of the Mexican President as a kind of "bullying".

I should note that the "hurt feelings" meme usually occurs in tandem with other standard kvetching:  “grossly interfered with China’s internal affairs, hurt the feelings of the Chinese people, and harmed Chinese-XYZ relations.”  Clearly, this is formulaic language.  What is more, because it is used with such frequency in China's dealing with other nations, it quickly begins to lose force and meaning, but amounts to mere blather and cannot be taken all that seriously.  Still, its sheer ubiquity makes one wonder:  why this obsession with damaged sensitivity?

Finding this expression — "hurts the feelings of the Chinese people" — so omnipresent in statements emanating from the PRC government, I wondered how it compares with the usage of analogous statements by representatives of other nations.

Here are ghits (Google hits) for some comparable phrases involving other nations:

"hurts the feelings of the Chinese people" 17,000
"hurts the feelings of the Japanese people" 178
"hurts the feelings of the American people" 5
"hurts the feelings of the German people" 2
"hurts the feelings of the Jewish people" 2
"hurts the feelings of the Indian people" 0
"hurts the feelings of the Russian people" 0
"hurts the feelings of the Italian people" 0
"hurts the feelings of the British people" 0
"hurts the feelings of the Swedish people" 0
"hurts the feelings of the French people" 0
"hurts the feelings of the Spanish people" 0
"hurts the feelings of the Turkish people" 0
"hurts the feelings of the Greek people" 0
"hurts the feelings of the Israeli people" 0
"hurts the feelings of the Vietnamese people" 0
"hurts the feelings of the Thai people" 0
"hurts the feelings of the Egyptian people" 0
"hurts the feelings of the Tibetan people" 0
"hurts the feelings of the Uighur people" 0
"hurts the feelings of the Uyghur people" 0
"hurts the feelings of the Mongolian people" 0

Of course, "hurts the feelings of the XYZ people" is only one possible variation on this theme, and the same idea might also be expressed through other phraseology:  "feelings were hurt," "feelings have been hurt," and the like.  But "hurts the feelings of the Chinese people" seems to be the canonical form according to the word wizards of the PRC Foreign Ministry, so it probably gives a fair indication of the sort of diplomatic sentiment about the presumed collective PRC psyche effusing from Beijing.

Just before making this post, I came upon a 2008 article by Tom Lasseter entitled "The hurt feelings of the Chinese," so I am by no means the first person to notice this peculiar phenomenon.

Then I started to look around a bit more, and I discovered a number of very interesting analyses of the wounded Chinese soul, including this excellent essay by Joel Martinsen:  "Mapping the hurt feelings of the Chinese people" in Danwei, also from 2008.

Even the PRC's own Global Times weighed in on China's hurt feelings in 2009.

If you put      hurt feelings China      (no quotes)  in your search engine, you will find all the countless thousands of people who have supposedly harmed the corporate Chinese spirit.  Some, such as Bob Dylan, are warned NOT to hurt Chinese feelings before they have actually done so:  "Bob Dylan Ordered to Not Hurt Feelings in China"!

What do we make of this hugely disproportionate usage of the "hurt feelings" meme by PRC spokespersons vis-à-vis its (non)usage by the spokespersons of other nations?  Do Chinese have far more feelings than other people?  Are Chinese more pathetic?  More bathetic?  More pitiable?  Having studied Chinese language, literature, and culture for most of my life, I find it hard to comprehend why the PRC spokespersons should concentrate so much on the perceived wounded feelings of their countrymen.  Surely it is self-demeaning for a large nation with such a long and illustrious past to focus so heavily on its injured emotions, yet there must be some reason(s) why they do so ad nauseam.

[A tip of the hat to Michael Carr]



44 Comments

  1. Vance Maverick said,

    September 12, 2011 @ 11:40 am

    As the commenter "slowboat" over on the Danwei post points out, it is incredibly cruel and insensitive of you to mock China for having the honesty to admit that its feelings were hurt.

  2. HP said,

    September 12, 2011 @ 11:59 am

    Whenever I've seen this construction in the past, I've always assumed it was a poorly chosen translation of an idiom that doesn't sound nearly so pitiable in Chinese.

    I'm trying to think of an equivalent phrase coming from a Western government. "We fear that X's intemperate remarks may damage X-Y relations in the future," maybe?

  3. Christopher said,

    September 12, 2011 @ 12:21 pm

    There was the State Dept. file of AUSTRALIA, Hurt Feelings of in Bart vs. Australia.

    http://www.arctosia.com/freepics/2008121101.jpg

  4. Gene Callahan said,

    September 12, 2011 @ 12:26 pm

    Christopher, having watched the flight of the Conchordes, I think that they deserve it all for their bullying of New Zealand.

  5. Theodore said,

    September 12, 2011 @ 12:54 pm

    Pursuant to HP's comment, and although I have zero knowledge of Chinese, I would be interested in seeing a word-by-word gloss of the source Chinese phrase that gets translated to "hurts the feelings of the Chinese people".

  6. bv said,

    September 12, 2011 @ 12:58 pm

    I would say that Victor Mair "hurt the feelings of Indians" by saying that nothing "hurts the feelings of the Indian people".

    Indian [Nationalists] tend to be very thin skinned as far as any perceived insult goes. Most books banned in India have been banned because they apparently have hurt the feelings of Indians (or some sub-section of Indians).

    The best key words I could think of were: India "hurt the feelings"

    and

    India "hurt the feelings" -china

  7. bv said,

    September 12, 2011 @ 1:01 pm

    And also:

    India "sentiments hurt"

    This is not very accurate, but this is the only way I could think of finding the various sub-sections of Indians with hurt sentiments.

  8. Thomas Grano said,

    September 12, 2011 @ 1:02 pm

    HP said: "Whenever I've seen this construction in the past, I've always assumed it was a poorly chosen translation of an idiom that doesn't sound nearly so pitiable in Chinese."

    Although I can't comment on how "pitiable" it sounds in Chinese, I was interested to discover (by looking up a People's Daily article about the aforementioned Mexican President Calderon's recent meeting with the Dalai Lama) that the Chinese version of the expression is about as close as one can get to a literal translation of the English version:

    伤害中国人民感情
    shang1hai4 zhong1guo2 ren2min2 gan3qing2
    injure/harm China people feeling
    'hurt the feelings of the Chinese people'

    It's also interesting to compare the above English Google hit statistics with the results of conducting the search in Chinese:

    "伤害中国人民感情" (hurts the feelings of the Chinese people) 544,000 ghits
    "伤害日本人民感情" (hurts the feelings of the Japanese people) 13,200 ghits
    "伤害美国人民感情" (hurts the feelings of the American people) 8,060 ghits
    "伤害德国人民感情" (hurts the feelings of the German people) 445 ghits

  9. J. W. Brewer said,

    September 12, 2011 @ 1:43 pm

    This is pretty wimpy stuff compared to the great Chicom agitprop stock phrases of yore ("running dogs of imperialism" . . . "capitalist roader" . . . "white-boned demon" . . .).

    Is there a stock phrase the ROC authorities on Taiwan use in their English-language press releases when they are upset in the foreign-relations context? What is it?

  10. JMM said,

    September 12, 2011 @ 2:05 pm

    I don't speak Chinese either, but I'd think this is a matter of idiom even if it is a literal translation, or perhaps just nuance.

    Americans may not get their "feelings hurt" often, but they sure are insulted a whole lot. 28k ghits for "insult to American people"; 102k ghits for "insult to America". The British don't get insulted as often (5k and almost 9k), but it happens more often then their feeling are attacked. My Goggle-fu (white belt at best) isn't up to limiting the results to only official statements or just those that come from politicians, and a quick scan indicates that posters on wingnut blogs are the most easily insulted for all their country and fellows (I find this rather insulting), but they aren't the only ones to use the phrase.

    To me 'being insulted' sounds more he-manly, than getting "feelings hurt" I guess, but the actions that cause those things are exactly the same.

  11. Vance Maverick said,

    September 12, 2011 @ 2:21 pm

    JMM is right that Americans, or America, or the American people, get their feelings hurt too, but don't express it in the same way. True, we may vent our feelings occasionally in more macho formulations, but (and here the transition into "politics" talk is inevitable) we also too easily let them overflow into action — incoherent, ill-considered, destructive action. Better perhaps to have whined unmanfully than to have lashed out incompetently against the wrong enemies.

  12. arthur waldron said,

    September 12, 2011 @ 3:07 pm

    Bob Avakian is the Chairman of the Revolutionary Communist Party. They are the ones who drummed the CCP out of the world Communist movement and continued to this day to support The Chairman's policies after the appalling swerve against Maoism following the Helmsman's sad demise. They used to have a storefront in Harvard Square called "Revolution Books" that some of you may remember and I gather they have others. In any case they translate literally into English even idioms as the extremely vulgar Gou3Pi4, which is what you get when a dog breaks wind. So you would headlines along the lines of "Smash the dog fart of Reagan's statement" that however heartfelt are unidiomatic to put it mildly.

  13. Ned Danison said,

    September 12, 2011 @ 3:29 pm

    I'm interested to hear your insight or guesses on what elements of Chinese culture are reflected in this collective-hurt-feelings device.

    The first thing that comes to mind is collectivism (in contrast to individualism). That is, Chinese writers may have a tendency to present China as a family with a collective will and uniform aspirations when their nation-family is juxtaposed with another nation-family.

    But then it could be the authoritarian government saying this is how "we Chinese" *should* think and feel.

    It could also reflect the Chinese value of 人情味, the friendly feelings people should try to maintain, as if to say, "Foreigners are not observing the requisite friendly feelings (and are therefore barbaric)."

    Anyone see culture in the language?

  14. arthur waldron said,

    September 12, 2011 @ 4:32 pm

    Ned's is a wonderful question. I will pass all of this on to a professor of social psychology friend who is rarely off the mark. My immediate reaction is that hurt feelings are not part of the traditional diplomatic repertoire, but that shame and humiliation are, as in "Don't forget national humiliation/shame" in the first third of the last century, when they even had holidays to do so.

  15. Victor Mair said,

    September 12, 2011 @ 4:33 pm

    @JMM and Vance Maverick

    The "Chinese people" are not only prone to having their feelings hurt, they are also even more likely than Americans to be collectively insulted.

    English ghits:

    "insults the Chinese people" 2,620

    "insult to the Chinese people" 266,000

    Chinese ghits:

    shānghài zhōngguó rénmín gǎnqíng "伤害中国人民感情" ("hurt the feelings of the Chinese people") 545,000

    wǔrǔ zhōngguó rénmín "侮辱中国人民" ("insult the Chinese people") 766,000

  16. Victor Mair said,

    September 12, 2011 @ 4:43 pm

    From Yige Dong:

    I found 284 results of "hurts the feelings of the Taiwanese" in a google search, and 2 for "hurt the feelings of the Hong Kong People." Another interesting pair of numbers!

  17. Tim said,

    September 12, 2011 @ 4:52 pm

    Luckily, someone thought to keep score.
    http://blog.sina.com.cn/s/blog_4a523c4c0100c3kf.html
    As of 2006, Japan was first by a mile, hurting the feelings of the Chinese People 47 times. The US came next, hurting the feelings of the Chinese People 23 times. NATO was a distant third with 10 times. From 1946 to 2006, the Chinese Peoples' feelings were hurt a total of 115 times, which comes out to about 1.92 times per year.

  18. ShadowFox said,

    September 12, 2011 @ 5:04 pm

    One must be careful of generalizations based on isolated Google counts. For example, changing "the American people" to "Americans, raises the count significantly. Changing "hurts" to "hurt" for "British people" raises the count from 0 (3 now–all copies of this post) to 3700. But the interesting thing here is that, even among these multitudes, it is easy to spot Chinese sources making comments about OTHER people.

  19. Jon Weinberg said,

    September 12, 2011 @ 5:38 pm

    There's an in-depth analysis of the PRC government's use of this phrase at http://www.fangkc.com/2010/10/hurt-the-feelings-of-chinese-people/ . The author notes, among other things, that the Chinese people have only been vulnerable to hurt feelings since 1978; before then, they were angered but not hurt. He attributes the change to a shift in PRC foreign policy. As he points out, the frequency with which the Chinese people's feelings were hurt has varied over time since 1978; 1995-2001 seems to have been a particularly dicey time for the people's emotional well-being.

  20. Victor Mair said,

    September 12, 2011 @ 6:19 pm

    @ShadowFox

    "One must be careful of generalizations based on isolated Google counts."

    Of course, but surely you would agree that 17,000 to 178/5/2/2/0/0/0/0/0/0/0/0/0/0/0/0/0/0… means something.

  21. KyleKyle said,

    September 12, 2011 @ 10:34 pm

    No, mainland Chinese guys are sensitive. Every time you inadvertently hurt their feelings, they generally have a huge tantrum and cry (they call it "losing face" but whatever). I've been living in China for years and I tell you: I'm supersentive every day to the delicate, complicated emotions of male Chinese colleagues, pedestrians, store owners, etc. Even the most imaginary slight will get them screaming 该死的洋鬼子 and stamping their feet and making a show of holding back their tears.

    Of course, I can't walk down the street without Chinese people mocking me, telling foreigner jokes, doing foreigner impressions, etc. The Chinese media (news, drama, and comedy) consistently portrays foreigners in an extremely negative light, and every other country is generally vilified. So the real question is: Why the double standard? Why does China always expect us to be the grown-ups and sooth and comfort them when they are in a fussy mood? Why do we have to always be the adults in the relationship, and take their words with a grain of salt?

  22. Mike said,

    September 12, 2011 @ 10:50 pm

    I was interrogated for 24 hours in Beijing for doing human rights activism for Tibet during the Olympics (and was actually jailed for 6 days, but that's a whole other part of the story).

    During my interrogation, the detective said to me, "In America, you can say what you want. But in China, if you do something, one billion people must agree. You hurt the feelings of one billion people.”

    It was a tremendous and illuminating statement, with so much information learned in 20 seconds. Even in the middle of a 24 hour interrogation while being held by the police and having no idea what was going to happen to me, I found it pretty astounding and fascinating.

  23. Nathan Myers said,

    September 13, 2011 @ 4:35 am

    Pre-1978 Chinese are made angry, post- are hurt? Are Brits insulted, Yanks offended, Germans affronted, French piqued, Italians incensed, Arabs aggrieved, Canadians frosted, Mexicans humiliated? What of Russians, Japanese, Indians, Afrikaaners?

  24. Richard Landes said,

    September 13, 2011 @ 5:38 am

    this is largely about honor-shame concerns, and obviously as JMM and VM point out, you have to look at various formulas. a country like egypt (where honor-killings still occur with regularity) may not use the (actually quite wimpy) "hurt our feelings" but surely would use "insult to… offense to… attack on the egyptian people," and words like humiliation. egyptians can even – as many countries in the world – throw people in prison who say things publicly that harm the image of the egyptian people/nation.

    as several commenters have pointed out, it's not uncommon that these thin skins have no problem heaping contempt on others. that's a result of the zero-sum nature of many honor-shame dynamics: the point is not to get rid of insulting behavior, it's to dump on others and avoid getting dumped on oneself. in particular, revenge for humiliation necessitates not only return humiliation, but in some more violent cultures, the shedding of blood.

    all these are issues that scholars (and diplomats) need to be dealing with, but, alas, because someone like edward said and the post-modern/post-colonial crowd have made it shameful to discuss honor-shame, we have not yet done with any of the attention and nuance required.

  25. Rolig said,

    September 13, 2011 @ 7:45 am

    My question is, why do translators choose the expression "hurts the feelings of" — which makes the Chinese people sound like a little child or a pampered, oversensitive diva — instead of the more dignified "offends": "Such an action offends the Chinese people"? This seems like a case of hyperliteral translation.

  26. Susan Blum said,

    September 13, 2011 @ 8:03 am

    Great discussion! I've been intrigued by this formula as well, for several decades. It seems funny that just as China is attempting to assert its strength and power on the international stage, it is so easily offended by any perceived slight. This is related, of course, to hints of "China bashing," which seems to be an accusation of greater insult than mere "hurt," and which has also increased in frequency in the last several years. (I have not subjected this to a Google search, but some people could if they like. I defer to those who like to practice their "Google-fu.")

    Formulaic language, like the "running dogs" of yesteryear, has a powerful role to play in conversation, discussion, and argument. It is difficult to stop and deconstruct a term that smuggles in a worldview as "hurt the feelings of the Chinese people" does so effectively.

  27. Fox said,

    September 13, 2011 @ 8:15 am

    I don't speak Mandarin, but I am given to understand this is a traditional translation of a phrase that could be more accurately rendered as "this damages your relationship with the Chinese people."

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ganqing

  28. ENKI-][ said,

    September 13, 2011 @ 8:41 am

    You missed an excellent opportunity to say 'Comments closed so as not to hurt the feelings of the Chinese people'.

  29. Victor Mair said,

    September 13, 2011 @ 9:48 am

    I am grateful for all the astute comments on this post.

    Some of you have questioned whether "hurt the feelings of the Chinese people" is an accurate or worthy translation of shānghài zhōngguó rénmín gǎnqíng "伤害中国人民感情". The problem is that, like "running dogs" and "paper tigers," "hurt the feelings of the Chinese people" is standard Xinhuaese (New China News Agency Speak). When China's official spokespersons constantly invoke this formulation *in English* and when the PRC's official news agency spews it forth across the world in countless releases, there is little anyone else can do to "rectify" (a favorite Confucian expression) or improve the translation.

    Here's a typical "hurt the feelings of the Chinese people" statement from the Chinese Foreign Ministry as propagated by Xinhua:

    ====

    "China lodges solemn representations on Obama-Dalai meeting"
    http://news.xinhuanet.com/english2010/china/2011-07/17/c_13989715.htm

    "…China pointed out that the U.S. obstinate arrangement of President Obama's meeting with the Dalai Lama in the White House has seriously interfered in China's internal affairs, hurt the feelings of the Chinese people, undermined China's key interests and damaged the Sino-American relations, said the press release, voicing China's strong indignation and stern objection to the meeting…."

    ====

    If you google on — Xinhua hurt the feelings of the Chinese people — you can find endless repetitions of and variations on this theme directed at various other nations. On the other hand, if you google on — hurt the feelings of the Chinese people — you will find fewer of the Xinhua diatribes and relatively more amused, bemused, critical, and skeptical accounts and analyses by those who are not representatives of the PRC.

    For instance, here's another relevant post by Joel Martinsen:

    "Google computers hurt the feelings of the Chinese people"
    http://www.danwei.org/internet/google_computers_hurt_the_feel.php

    And there are good comments on this post here:
    http://thechinahotline.wordpress.com/2011/09/13/hurts-the-feelings-of-the-chinese-people/

  30. Janice Byer said,

    September 13, 2011 @ 1:20 pm

    I fear I'm adding insult to injury by seconding Susan Blum's "Great discussion!", thereby implicitly praising Victor Mair's posting, but, alas, I stand with us few, us happy few, us band of readers. Has Language Log heard yet from the Chinese Foreign Ministry of the PRC?

  31. Mimi Chung said,

    September 13, 2011 @ 1:23 pm

    I would like to make a humble observation; I think that I might have the advantage of being white and having lived in China for three years teaching English, but also married an ABC. I think that they are using the term "feelings" instead of the term "face" as in "loss of face" (where they look bad) or "saving face" (looking good at the outcome of something, a reputation of sorts, even when in context relating to perfect strangers). I think they translate to the term "feeling" because it is an all encompassing term for the West! WE don't understand "face", "feelings" we know all to well.

  32. Janice Byer said,

    September 13, 2011 @ 4:43 pm

    Respectfully, "WE" do understand "the term "face" as in "loss of face". What we don't understand is a presumption of entitlement to the privilege of having face spared at the expense of people(s)' rights, our own or others'.

  33. Janice Byer said,

    September 13, 2011 @ 5:17 pm

    " “Here are ghits (Google hits) …”

    What’s the point of using an abbreviation and then explaining what it means?"
    ——
    The point is to share knowledge with readers who appreciate the generosity, or so I deduce from the fact that I do.

  34. Ellen K. said,

    September 14, 2011 @ 9:18 am

    Because ghits is the standard term, not "Google hits". So one uses the standard term, and then explains it for the unfamiliar.

  35. Dan T. said,

    September 14, 2011 @ 10:07 am

    A number of political groups in many countries have, at times, gone for the concept that it is, or ought to be, a civil or criminal offense to hurt somebody's feelings (though the Chinese government has the most weapons of mass destruction to back up such positions). This concept has sometimes motivated politically-correct speech codes favored by parts of the academic left, but is also found in the religious right, where, for instance, they regard support of gay marriage as somehow infringing their religious liberty, though nobody's forcing them to gay-marry; apparently merely having to live in the same state as a gay couple is causing hurt to their religious feelings.

  36. Justin said,

    September 14, 2011 @ 11:33 am

    For two other close countries:

    ghits for
    "hurts the feelings of the korean people": 3
    "hurts the feelings of the {south,north} korean people": 0,0

  37. Rujie Wang said,

    September 15, 2011 @ 7:39 am

    If you google "hurt feelings of 9/11 victims", you get 67,000,000 hits.

    [(myl) No, you don't. If you do a web search with this phrase in quotes, you get four (4) results from Google, two (2) results from Bing, zero (0) results from Google News Archive search, etc.

    When I search for that string without quotes on Google, I get "about 1,870,000 results" (where that is the usual highly-inaccurate extrapolation from a biased sample), but of course essentially all of these are examples where the page contains the various requested words in completely different relationships, for example one that attempts to attribute the fact that George Bush declined to appear last May at an event marking the demise of Osama bin Laden to his alleged petulance and "hurt feelings" at having failed to accomplish this goal during his own presidency.

    So your attempt at a "tu quoque" argument is simply nonsense -- the fixation of some Chinese government representatives and state journalists on the allegedly hurt feelings of the Chinese people remains an isolated and remarkable peculiarity.]

    The language of China Xinhua News Agency helps the "Chinese people" remember past humiliating national defeats like the Opium War, Yuanming Yuan burning, Sino-Japanese wars, and so forth. In other words, the language is a part of the discourse of nationalism with which to preserve the collective memories of modern China, to ward off any criticism from "lao wai" (foreigners) and to strengthen the moral authority or political legitimacy of the government. Although Bush's rationale to attack Iraq is WMD, the real impetus behind the war on terror was the feelings of hurt from 9/11 that will last for a long long time, very potent politically.

  38. Mr Punch said,

    September 15, 2011 @ 2:00 pm

    I think JMM and Vance Maverick, together, point to something significant. Being "insulted," as Americans apparently often are, does in fact tend to lead to retributive action (especially, some experts hold, among Southerners and those of Celtic heritage). Hurt feelings are perhaps more likely to lead to sulking. Is there a signal, intentional or not, about the consequences of the negative action – i.e., does "you hurt our feelings" imply "but while we won't forget it, we're not going to do anything about it"?

  39. M. Möhling said,

    September 15, 2011 @ 6:36 pm

    I wondered how it compares with the usage of analogous
    statements by representatives of other nations.
    Here are ghits (Google hits) for some comparable phrases
    involving other nations:
    "hurts the feelings of the Chinese people" 17,000
    "hurts the feelings of the Japanese people" 178
    "hurts the feelings of the American people" 5

    Of course, "hurts the feelings of the XYZ people" is only one possible variation on this theme, and the same idea might also be expressed through other phraseology: "feelings were hurt," "feelings have been hurt," and the like. But "hurts the feelings of the Chinese people" seems to be the canonical form according to the word wizards of the PRC Foreign Ministry

    one possible variation:
    "hurt the feelings of * billion Muslims", 74,200 results as of now. Seems to be pretty canonical.

  40. zepplin said,

    September 18, 2011 @ 1:01 am

    There are a few aspects which makes this phrase more apt for China.

    China's government, more than that of democratic governments, is often accused of not being representative of the Chinese people. And one argument for meeting the Dalai Lama is that it is this unrepresentative government that is throwing a sissy fit, and meeting Dalai Lama is actually good for the Chinese people in a freedom of religion, human rights, alleviate oppression kind of way, implying a degree of support from the the Chinese people. Similar for Olympics, Nobel Peace Prize, Taiwan, Uyghurs, etc.

    Hence, the phrase "hurt the feelings of the Chinese people" serves the additional purpose of rhetorically stressing the link between the government with the people that democratic governments have no need to stress. This is very common in Communist rhetoric.

    It also serves as a rhetorical cover for "people" retaliations. For example, during the short unofficial rare earth embargo to Japan, the foreign ministry stated that it was the actions of private companies and not the government's doing. This logically follows from the "hurt the feelings of the Chinese people" rhetoric, and gives an the phrase a economic retaliation warning dimension. This dimension is also absent for most democracies (due to insignificant market and/or less state dominance in the economy). It says, in effect, anger our x.x billion people (market) at your own peril, hint hint

  41. yybb said,

    September 19, 2011 @ 1:17 am

    There certainly is a cross-cultural difference. Chinese argumentative discourse, comparatively speaking, may tend to appeal to emotions, compared with Western discourse that emphasizes incontestable facts and solid reasoning. In Western thinking, one's being emotionally affected/upset in consequence of something does not constitute an argument for or against that something. Your feelings and your "face" (to preserve one's dignity) are un-important considerations in the context of argument making.

    The Chinese ministry of foreign affairs appears to be staffed largely by people insensitive to cross-cultural communication differences. They need to learn to emphasize facts and reasoning, stripped of emotional appeals, if they wish to convince a Western audience.

    International opinion needs to be manged with finesse.

    On a related note, often times a Western journalist would , for his/her Western audience, analyze certain Chinese reactions as arising from the notion of "preserving face". By doing so, the journalist is effectively manipulating the readers into dismissing those Chinese reactions/claims. The share thinking is that "face" is an irrelevant notion for us. If their claim is based on that, we do need not give it any weight.

  42. Alan Shaw said,

    October 6, 2011 @ 12:07 am

    @zepplin: "sissy fit" — eggcorn alert, I believe, or is this an intentional extension of "hissy fit" to cahracterhize the hisser?

  43. Lareina said,

    October 27, 2011 @ 12:31 pm

    I think 'hurt the feeling of Chinese people' is a big deal to the Chinese.
    It's a very native …tradition I guess? It's like "邪魔" ( means bring trouble to someone literally, but more often taken as 'ask someone for a favor') in Japanese. – That probably explains why Japanese is also up there in 2nd place.
    Wow, Chinese and Japanese, my feelings are hurt very often….

  44. Lareina said,

    October 27, 2011 @ 12:32 pm

    I just googled the Chinese version, and it sounds weaker than I thought it would be….
    “伤害中国人民的感情”

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