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Aug 23, 2009

American Political Leaders Speak Mandarin

American Political Leaders Speak Mandarin

美国国务卿希拉莉2009 年2月访华时用了中国成语“同舟共济”。从那以后,我们经常听到奥巴马政府官员引用中国成语。今年七月,中美战略与经济对话在美国召开时,她又引用了一句中国谚语 “人心齐,泰山移”,来强调美中合作的重要性。美国财长则在开幕式上引用中国成语“风雨同舟”,来形容当前美中关系的现实。奥巴马却引用球星姚明的话。姚明说新旧球员之间需要时间调整才能合作。

During US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's visit to China in Feb 2009, she quoted a Chinese proverb: “Tong zhou gongji”. Since then Obama's officials often quote Chinese proverbs and other Chinese Golden Sayings in their speeches.

In July this year, Hillary Clinton again quoted Chinese proverb “ren xin qi, Taishan yi.” to stress the importance of cooperation between US and America during the opening ceremony for the US-China Strategic and Economic Dialogue. She began her opening speech by saying “good morning, zhong xin gan xie” to welcome the arrival of the Chinese delegates. Hillary also said , “At this moment of crisis, we acted together: 风雨同舟. ”

The US Treasury Secretary also said,“ Feng Yu Tong Zhou” to describe the close relationship between US and China 。

President Obama said: "President Hu and I both felt that it was important to get our relationship off to a good start. Of course, as a new President and also as a basketball fan, I have learned from the words of Yao Ming, who said, "No matter whether you are new or an old team member, you need time to adjust to one another." Well, through the constructive meetings that we've already had, and through this dialogue, I'm confident that we will meet Yao's standard".

What has this cultural phenomenon suggested? Now let's understand the meaning of the Chinese proverbs and phrases.

Tóng zhōu gòng jì [同舟共济] - “ pull together in times of trouble.” (Of people in the same plight). Tóng – the same, zhōu – boat, gòng – together , jì – crossing a river.

Rén xīn qí, Tàishān yí . [人心齐,泰山移。] rén – people, xīn – heart/feeling, qí- same, Tàishān – Mt Taishan in Shandong provision, as its height, it symbolizes the highest mountain. yí – move. “ When people think with one mind, even Mount Tai can be moved.”

Zhōng xīn gǎn xiè [衷心感谢] - "thank from the bottom of one's heart.”

Fēng yǚ tóng zhōu. [风雨同舟] “in the same storm-tossed boat –stick it out; tide over difficulties together.” fēng – wind, yǔ – rain, tóng – same, zhōu – boat.

This guest blog is submitted by Mr Ng Koon How ( 黄坤浩), BA of Chinese Language and Culture)Beijing Language and Culture University), a professional coach and tutor in Chinese Language to foreign students. This article was written for his students from US and Europe. Read more about his students here

For more information on Chinese culture and language training, please contact Mr Ng Koon How at or



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