“You Speak Very Good Chinese,” NDRC Chairman Tells Female Australian Reporter [UPDATE]

Turns out, nope — at least in terms of content. But on Saturday afternoon, one reporter attracted an equal amount of attention at an 18th Party Congress press conference. She stood up, took the mic, and asked a nearly minute-long question in Mandarin, and then wryly said, “I’ll translate for myself.” A few chuckles came out of the erstwhile catatonic crowd.

“I’m from Global CAMG Media International based in Australia,” she said. “The Australian government has recently released an important white paper on Australia’s relations with Asia in the 21st century. It discusses Australia’s relations with Asia over the next 25 years, particularly Australia’s relations with China. Mr. Zhang, please tell us what policies and plans the Chinese government will be implementing in cooperation with Australia. Xiexie, thank you.”

And then, National Development and Reform Commission Chairman Zhang Ping, a native of central Anhui province, said in an Andre the Giant accent: “You speak very good Chinese.” Chuckle. “I understood everything.” (Or as the translator put it: “I can get your point properly.”)

UPDATE, 11:03 pm: The reporter’s name is Andrea Yu, and she was interviewed by WSJ’s China Real Time Report:

Ms. Yu told China Real Time, who says she has been called upon four times so far. She says her secret to being tapped is sitting in the same spot at every official meeting. She also credits her ability to make across-the-room eye-contact with moderators.

But there’s one more reason, she says: “They know my questions are safe.” Ms. Yu said her questions are pre-written by her Chinese colleagues and that she is not allowed to ask her own questions. “I’m representing a Chinese-Australian company, so I need to ask questions they want me to ask,” she said, adding: “Believe me, I would have other questions to ask if I could.”

With all due acknowledgements that this reporter’s Chinese is actually pretty good, we’d like to say there is, of course, a Laowai Comic for what happened, and that Laowai Comic is this:

Go visit his site already.

    13 Responses to ““You Speak Very Good Chinese,” NDRC Chairman Tells Female Australian Reporter [UPDATE]”

    1. King Baeksu

      I think the Chinese translator was slightly off. “I understood everything” actually means, “This Aussie Bettie Page has a great rack!”

      BTW, does reading from a prepared script and umming and ahhing a lot really constitute good Chinese? What was his answer anyway?

      • Boooooooooya

        In my experience Chinese people judge foreigners’ Chinese almost entirely by their pronunciation of the tones. She does well on that front. Plus… the comic is true, and it’s at least partly because the number of foreigners who speak good Chinese is still very low.

    2. Double Standards?

      Re. comics … that situation happens all over the world though, people are just surprised by what’s not expected.

      Also, ever wondered why Chinese people praise foreigners’ Chinese even if its shit? Maybe because they think it’s great that foreigners are making the effort to learn Chinese and its their way of showing encouragement? How would you feel if you’re learning a foreign language (let’s say French for now) and the French person says, “oh my, why are you so bad at French?”

    3. slim

      Isn’t there a better blog post here on the fake journalism, with CCTV-style softball questions, this lady is committing? Chinese state media have no choice, but why on earth should foreigners follow that pathetic course?

      • King Baeksu

        Lol, that’s what happens when a fake reporter runs up against a real one. I’ve seen my share of kangaroo roadkill in the Outback, but nothing like this. Not that the plebs in China will know any different.

        Wonder if she’ll still have a job when she gets back home? Of course, she’d fit right in with the Washington Press corps, should she need new employment.

        What’s up with the white face and that surname, anyway? Doesn’t sound Greek to me!

    4. Joseph Lemien

      I am amazed that she has become an internet sensation for “good Chinese.” Her pausing seemed to divide her sentences into neatly separated words. All of her “uh”s certainly didn’t make it seem very fluent to me. It seemed like she was reading from a prepared script (which she obviously was) without having practiced it much (which she damn well should have for such an important event) and without being completely comfortable with the content/language of the question (which she should be).


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