Chairman Xi the orator. Not

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At this most important moment of his career, when he is about to be crowned emperor for life of the CCP / PRC, Xi Dada commits a whole slew of bloopers and blunders, gaffes and goofs, and the camera has caught him in flagrante delicto:

Video clips (below in the tweet stream) have captured all of his embarrassing solecisms.  Here I will record each of his blunders, giving what he meant to say.  You can measure my versions against his (inside the parentheses) in the tweet above.  There are two versions of the video.  The first one includes super-slow versions of his mistakes, so that you can hear all of them in excruciating detail.  If you're a fan of tones, you get to hear them in slow-slow motion.

jiēzhǒngérzhì 接踵而至 ("to follow each other and arrive successively; to be unceasing")

dǎtiě bìxū zìshēn yìng 打铁必须自身硬 ("it takes a good blacksmith to make good steel")
jjué rénlèi miànlín de gòngtóng wèntí 解决人类面临的共同问题 ("common problems faced by the liberation of mankind")
fùnǚ értóng 妇女儿童 ("women and children")
zhuólì 着力 ("put forth effort; exert oneself") — makes the same error numerous times

gōngjǐ 供给 ("supply; provide; furnish")

sùzào 塑造 ("shape; create; fashion; model; sculpt")

gùjí 痼疾 ("chronic disease")

bùzhòu / bùzóu 步骤 ("step; move; procedure; measure")

shēngdòng huópō 生动活泼 ("be lively and vivid; be lively and invigorating; in a lively way; lively")

dàodé shuǐzhǔn 道德水准 ("moral standard")

dòuzhēng 斗争取得 ("struggle to gain; achieve through struggle")

wùzhí wénmíng 物质文明 ("material civilization") — this one is such a howler that I will also give what came out of his mouth:  mùzhì míng 墓志铭 ("tomb epitaph")

Some of the things he actually said are quite ironic in light of what he wanted to say.

At the end of the video, Xi sits down next to the hapless Hu Jintao, and they grin at each other.  Hu had no clue what was going to happen to him later during the meeting:  one of the most mind-boggling events in modern Chinese history.  With the whole world looking on, gray-haired Hu was ushered out of the Great Hall by two large guards who wouldn't take no for an answer.  All Hu could do was nod at Xi, who was sitting to his right, tap Premier Li Keqiang on the shoulder (kiss of death for LI) as he passed by, and shuffle away, the big guards prodding him all the way.

Selected readings

[Thanks to Mark Metcalf]


  1. Jens Østergaard Petersen said,

    October 23, 2022 @ 2:37 am

    bùzòu for 步骤 is attested in slightly older Mandarin dictionaries and is standard in Taiwan.

  2. Banana said,

    October 23, 2022 @ 9:12 am

    As a non-native Chinese speaker, I wonder which of these errors is due to nervousness, which are due to whatever regional non-standard accent he has and which are because he literally doesn't know how these words are pronounced.

    For instance, I don't believe he thinks 铁 is pronounces xie. He probably just got tripped up. But he consistently pronounced 着 in 着力 as zhao? That seems like an outright lack of education.

  3. Victor Mair said,

    October 23, 2022 @ 11:03 am


    Good questions. To answer them fully, please consider them in light of the "Selected readings" at the end of the o.p.

    There is also the Chairman's 2001 doctoral dissertation, Zhōngguó nóngcūn shìchǎnghuà yánjiū 中国农村市场化研究 ("Tentative Study of Agricultural Marketization"), for which see this remarkable post on the "Dim Sums" blog.

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