BARF (Belt and Road Forum) 2.0

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[This is a guest post by the inimitable satirist, S. Tsow]

[1.0 is this: "BARF (Belt and Road Forum)" (5/19/17)]

Xi Jinping ("Mr. Eleven" [XI]) calls his New Silk Road initiative "One Belt, One Road"  (Yidai-Yilu).  A map I have shows a land route in the north, going westward, bifurcating at Urumchi, and ending at Rotterdam and Istanbul.  OK, that's the "belt".  The "road" shows a sea route in the south that wanders all over the place and ends in the west at Venice.

Xi and his minions are technocrats, not poets, so they don’t give a shit about names, except that they want one that sings and makes money.  I’m looking for a name, in English and Chinese, that avoids the awkwardness of land “belt” and sea “road” and that sings.

I suppose we could say “Roadway and Seaway,” but that doesn’t sing.  The Chinese would read “Dilu-Hailu,” but my dictionary doesn’t give the word “dilu.”  Would it be possible to substitute “dao” for “lu” and say “Didao-Haidao”?  The English translation would give us “Roadway and Seaway,” but that sounds schlocky.  “Land Route and Sea Route” are pedestrian beyond belief.  Still, the whole shebang could be called the Two Routes Initiative (TRI).

If we want to give the routes added glamor, we could add a quasi-mystical touch by calling them the erdao:  the didao and the haidao.  That suggests a link to Daoism.

It also opens up the possibility of satire to mischief-makers like me, who would start talking about the sandao (three ways):  the didao (land way), the haidao (sea way), and the howdy-doody dao (howdy-doody way).  The howdy-doody dao would be an air route, trodden by refugees from persecution of the Falun Gong and other mystical cults.

Anyway, I would be grateful for any help you can give in solving this conundrum.  I don't suppose if you pitched it to Mr. Eleven he would respond with a sumptuous reward.  After all, he's a technocrat, not a poet.


  1. Bathrobe said,

    May 20, 2017 @ 5:17 pm

    There is always 陆路 lùlù 'land route'. While it may sound a tad pedestrian for such a grand undertaking, 'lulu' has the advantage of sounding great in English. 'Lulu Hilu', it just trips off the tongue.

  2. Victor Mair said,

    May 20, 2017 @ 5:29 pm


    Did you mean "Lulu Hailu"? That IS nice.

    Do you want me to fix it?

  3. Victor Mair said,

    May 20, 2017 @ 5:44 pm

    From Arthur Waldron:

    There is always the 胡说八道.


    VHM: ROTFL!! Love it.

    Arthur is playing off the two very different meanings of dào 道: "way" and "say".

    húshuō bādào 胡说八道 means "nonsense"

  4. Narmitaj said,

    May 20, 2017 @ 5:52 pm

    I wonder* if your Mr Eleven's family originally came from Ruyton XI Towns?

    Unfortunately it was not founded in the XI Century, which would be pleasing – we have to make do with the fact it was actually founded in the 12thC, which is at least the XI-hundreds.

    *I don't really wonder that.

  5. Bathrobe said,

    May 20, 2017 @ 6:10 pm

    I thought of 'Hilu' as a nod to anglicisation, but it might be confusing. 'Hailu' would be fine, too.

  6. Bathrobe said,

    May 20, 2017 @ 7:01 pm

    Actually, 'Low Lu and High Lu' works great in English and if he is reading this I am sure Mr Xi will take it on board.

    'You take the Low Lu while I take the High Lu.' A great slogan for the next BARF summit.

  7. Michael Jack Assels said,

    May 21, 2017 @ 1:05 pm

    My Chinese is nonexistent, but anything that translates to "One is by road; two is by sea" would work for me.

  8. Adam F said,

    May 22, 2017 @ 2:51 am

    The "three ways" gag reminds me of the German viola joke:

    Was sind die drei Lagen auf der Bratsche?

    Erste Lage, Notlage, und Niederlage.

    (Last item on this page.)

  9. Su Ya-po said,

    May 24, 2017 @ 8:14 am

    地道 dìdào means "tunnel", not a land route. I'm all for constructing a gigantic underground tunnel from Chang'an all the way to Venice just for the heck of it, but I suspect this is not what 十一先生 had in mind.

  10. Brendan said,

    May 25, 2017 @ 11:57 am

    "Oh, ye'll take the 海 road and I'll take the 陸 road…"

  11. Nicki said,

    May 29, 2017 @ 3:31 am

    The Beltway and the Haiway.

  12. Victor Mair said,

    May 30, 2017 @ 7:03 am

    "Fitting Into Beijing’s New World Order:
    China wants countries along its Silk Road routes to make a choice"

    By Andrew Browne WSJ (5/30/17)

    SHANGHAI—The VIP list at Beijing’s glittering launch party for its massive Silk Road trade plan was worth scrutinizing not for the luminaries who were on it, but those who weren’t.

    Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, who irritates Beijing by standing up to its bullying in the South China Sea, was notably missing; he didn’t get an invitation. European government heads were welcome, but mostly stayed away, as did leaders from India and Japan.

    The no-shows reflect a broad disquiet: To skeptics, what President Xi Jinping calls the “Project of the Century” is, at heart, an imperial venture….

  13. Jin Defang said,

    May 30, 2017 @ 7:37 am

    and let's not forget the road to hell, though I distrust the good intentions behind its creation.

  14. Victor Mair said,

    May 30, 2017 @ 10:49 am

    "China expands Belt and Road to the Arctic:
    Beijing warms diplomacy with region's states amid trade, environmental issues

    Nikkei, Tuesday 30 May 2017 Moriyasu Ken

    China's Belt and Road Initiative partly echoes the famed Ming dynasty navigator Zheng He's seven voyages to the western seas. Leading huge ships with a total crew of over 20,000, Zheng's ships visited ports across the Indian Ocean, the Middle East and Africa, "not as conquerors with warships, guns or swords" but as "friendly emissaries" sailing treasure-loaded ships, Chinese President Xi Jinping said in the keynote speech of the Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation held in Beijing on May 14. One theory has it that several parts of Zheng's fleet passed through the Arctic Ocean in their wooden vessels and discovered Greenland and Iceland — see former British submarine commander Gavin Menzies' book, "1421: The Year China Discovered the World."

    The authenticity of that theory aside, Xi's Belt and Road voyage seems to be taking a similarly ambitious turn north to those icy waters. Chinese diplomacy with countries and regions bordering the Arctic has intensified greatly in the past two months. Xi visited Alaska and Finland, while a senior Communist Party delegation was just in Iceland and a Norwegian leader visited Beijing for the first time since relations soured in 2010 over the Nobel Peace Prize awarded to Chinese dissident Liu Xiaobo. This choice of destinations is no coincidence. "Looking at the visit to Finland, Alaska and Iceland, you can see the connection with the Arctic Council's chairmanship calendar," said Damien Degeorges, a Reykjavik, Iceland-based consultant specializing in Arctic affairs.

    The Arctic Council serves as the leading intergovernmental forum among countries in the region: Canada, Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, Russia, Sweden and the U.S. The council determines regulations on sustainable development and environmental protection. "Earlier this month, Alaska hosted a ministerial meeting ending the U.S. chairmanship," Degeorges said. "Now Finland is holding the current chairmanship, and in two years it will be Iceland." Xi visited Finland en route to his summit with U.S. President Donald Trump in April. After meeting with Finnish President Sauli Niinisto, Xi said Beijing and Helsinki would "seize the opportunity of Finland's rotating chairmanship of the Arctic Council to enhance cooperation in Arctic affairs."

    Degeorges also sees the resumption of diplomacy with Norway in the same context. "It was essential for China to normalize relations with Norway, which is a major actor in the Arctic," he said.


    Comment by June Teufel Dreyer:

    I was not pleased to see Menzies’ cockamamie theory cited, but at least Moriyasu-san hints at skepticism.

    VHM: OBOR covers the entire world. It has lost all meaning with reference to its original stated intention.

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