Heaven won’t drop meat pies on us from the skies, only by fighting hard for our dreams can we make them come true.

Heaven won’t drop meat pies on us from the skies, only by fighting hard for our dreams can we make them come true. 天上不會掉餡餅,努力奮鬥才能夢想成真。— Chinese Communist Party Secretary and President Xi Jinping in his 2017 New Year’s message. Maybe juvenile of me, but this interesting expression really stuck in my mind as I listened.

Of course one can also translate this as “God helps those who help themselves”  although here using the Chinese metaphor in the translation makes it feel fresher.  I noticed while correcting English compositions years when I taught English in Taiwan that sometimes when my students used Chinese expressions directly translated into English (assuming they were grammatical and made sense in context), their expressions seemed fresher than the cliche that we might have used in English.   I suppose the reverse is true as well since we mostly aren’t used to the cliches in foreign languages.

Of course Heaven and God can be considered different ideas.  God isn’t part of communist discourse except perhaps when the need arises to approve the reincarnation of a Tibetan lama!

President Xi also mentioned the brave sacrifices of UN peacekeepers killed in Africa, progress China has made this year such as the establishment of the Asian Infrastructure Bank, progress on making it easier for peasants get legal status when they move to the city to work, progress in space, the victory of Chinese women’s volleyball at the Olympics and also a caution — “We are determined to pursue peaceful development, we will certainly protect our territory, sovereignty and maritime interests. No matter what some people may write on these issues, the Chinese people will accept no less. 我們堅持和平發展,堅決捍衛領土主權和海洋權益。誰要在這個問題上做文章,中國人民決不答應!

There was also the interesting expression 新故相推,日生不滯 maybe means something like “The old and the new strengthen one another, and new things are arising all the time”

President Xi’s New Year’s Greeting are on Youtube at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PSL1fbfGVT8   and of course featured in the Chinese national news broadcast for December 31 .

I was intrigued glancing at the Google News Chinese (Mainland) page — I got the impression that commentaries on the New Year’s remarks were much easier to find than the full text.  Articles such as “Respectfully Listening to President Xi’s New Year’s Message”  But the full text can still be found.  I get this and other top level speeches impression that speeches of the top leader gets layers of interpretation from the very start.

習近平發表2017年新年賀詞全文 2016-12-31 19:25














About 高大伟 David Cowhig

Worked 25 years as a US State Department Foreign Service Officer including ten years at US Embassy Beijing and US Consulate General Chengdu and four years as a China Analyst in the Bureau of Intelligence and Research. Before State I translated Japanese and Chinese scientific and technical books and articles into English freelance for six years. Before that I taught English at Tunghai University in Taiwan for three years. And before that I worked two summers on Norwegian farms, milking cows and feeding chickens.
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