Sunday, 26 June 2016

"In industry learn from Daqing".... For FIONNUALA McHUGH via John Lee

Hi John,
could you pass on the link below and this email to Fionnuala McHugh?
It relates to the SCMP Post Magazine of today, the caption to the picture, bottom right of p.12.
The caption says : "The Chinese characters read 'industrial learning and big celebration'". ("工业学大庆").
Well.... maybe.... if one translates along character by character.
But what the phrase actually says is "in Industry learn from Daqing".
Daqing was (and is) a major oil field up in Heilongjiang, which Mao quoted as an example of the selfless hard work it had taken to develop it.
"Daqing" does indeed mean "big celebration". But to translate it like that would be the equivalent of translating "Beijing" as "Northern capital", instead of, well, "Beijing".
There was, IIRC, one "Wang Tieren", literally "Iron man Wang" (the original Iron man!), who worked at Daqing and was held up as the model selfless socialist industrial worker that all Chinese were supposed to emulate. A bit like the famous (infamous?) Lei Feng.
The phrase "Gongye xue Daqing" is part of a longer slogan:
"In agriculture learn from Dazhai; in industry learn from Daqing; the people learn from the PLA".
Sometimes they added "and the PLA learns from the people", just to round it out.
These were some of the first slogans I learned when I studied in Peking in the mid seventies. They also took us along to visit Dazhai, which was kind of interesting in a Potemkin-village kind of way.
The link below is to a poster from the time, with translation.
By the way I did enjoy Fionnuala's article, as I always do. A great interview with Frank Dikotter.
And it may well be that the amusing translation was not Fionnuala's one of Post's editors, in which case you or she might also pass this on to them.
Peter Forsythe

Sent from my iPhone