"Crisis = danger + opportunity" in America and in PRC official media

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From Gillian Hochmuth:

Thank you for your great explanation of the reasons behind the famous Kennedy "crisis" misquote. When I was in high school, I had a friend who was Chinese and spoke Mandarin fluently, who explained it to my US History class after the teacher quoted Kennedy. That was over 20 years ago and I remembered that his quote was wrong, but could not remember the explanation I was given well enough to explain it to someone else.

One of my co-workers sent out Kennedy's quote, as the quote of the day, for the senior health care facility I work at during this Covid-19 crisis. I was glad to find your post, so that I could correct him. While this time is providing opportunities for growth and change, it is still a time that requires us to be very wary.

Francis Miller, who has lived in China for many years, reports:

Ah, the People's Daily! Incredible how many times I have seen this in English language publications. First time I’ve seen it from a major Chinese language state news organization in China though.

"Cóng 'wēi yǔ jī de biànzhèngfǎ zhōng bǎwò jīngjì fāzhǎn xīn jīyù 从'危与'机'的辩证法中把握经济发展新机遇" ("Grasp the New Opportunities for Economic Development from the Dialectics of 'Danger' and 'Opportunity'")

People's Daily (4/20/20)

This is but one of countless misperceptions concerning China that arise in the West, but then seep into China and are taken up there, such as that the Great Wall can be seen from the moon.  That myth, which dates back to a 1932 Ripley's "Believe It or Not!" cartoon, was thereafter accepted in China until mankind (Neil Armstrong) actually went to the moon and determined that no man-made structures were visible from its surface (230,000 distant from earth).  See Mara Hvistendahl, "China's Great Wall Visible from Space?" (2/21/08).


Selected reading


  1. Mark Metcalf said,

    April 21, 2020 @ 7:55 am

    Thought this China Daily citation might be of interest.
    "Centrally administered State-owned enterprises will be encouraged to utilize technologies gained from their battle against the COVID-19 to accelerate the integration between the latest digital solutions and traditional manufacturing, to turn the crisis into an opportunity, senior State assets regulators said on Monday"

    CD: http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/a/202004/21/WS5e9e4713a3105d50a3d1794d.html

    Thought it was just the translator pandering to English language readers. But on a whim, I searched for the Chinese source.

    Here's the CD article:

    With the headline:

    And here's an interesting quote from the article:

    Perhaps Western misconceptions are making it into the Chinese language through the process of reverse political osmosis?

  2. Victor Mair said,

    April 22, 2020 @ 10:27 am

    From Mark Metcalf:

    Further to the discussion of crisis/opportunity appearing in CCP media, perhaps this is the reason (from the 20 April article cited on LL):


    In today's Xinhua [and other CCP media] there's an article on XJP "quotable quotes", which includes this piece of inspired wisdom: "Crises and opportunities always exist side by side. Once overcome, a crisis is an opportunity." (http://www.xinhuanet.com/english/2020-04/22/c_138999197.htm)

    Now that Chairman Xi has said it, it apparently becomes part of the ChiCom canon and regurgitated far and wide. Or at least that's how it's supposed to work.

  3. Joe said,

    April 22, 2020 @ 11:48 am

    Reminds me of Michael Keaton's attempt to derive the meaning of a word by breaking it down into syllables.

  4. Thomas Rees said,

    April 22, 2020 @ 3:29 pm

    Joe: You really ought to credit the writers, Lowell Ganz and Babaloo Mandel. Michael Keaton is only an actor, and apparently thinks you need to dot an upper-case I (or maybe he’s Turkish).

  5. Victor Mair said,

    April 23, 2020 @ 6:35 am

    "Combating COVID-19: Challenge and opportunity"

    By Mushahid Hussain | chinadaily.com.cn | Updated: 2020-04-23 14:03


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