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Rotorua Branch Newsletter – June 2017


NZCFS Rotorua Branch June Newsletter

Greetings to everyone:
Welcome to winter. The turn-out at our May meeting was relatively low because some of our members were sick. Frost struck our town two weeks ago and that means winter has arrived. Take care and stay positive: if winter comes, can that mean spring is not far behind?

My presentation about the air pollution problem started with a video taken at a US university graduation ceremony. The heroine made some inappropriate statements about the air quality at her hometown, Kunming. When the video clipwas released onto YouTube, thousands of ‘Keyboard Men’ (describing people who do not dare to be brave in real life, but ‘just’ in cyber space) and cyberbullies were complaining about her opinions. There were also many voices against her opinion associated with the air quality issue in Kunming in a fare way. Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs also commented that Chinese emigrant students should be responsible for their behaviour. However, because of her statement, her personal contact details and background were pulled out by some hackers or cyberbullies and released onto the internet. This might harm the lady significantly in her daily life. Although I disagree with her opinion, I wish that her life will not be disturbed too much by this incident.

Nothing new in the sun. Cyberbully is also a very big problem in China. A few years ago, one person’s personal details would be published onto the internet just because he or she did something that was relatively severe and offended the public interest. For example a lady killed a cat and published the progress on the video website, or a shop owner published a surveillance video asking the locals to find a school-age girl’s identity because she stole a pair of pants from his shop. The first lady’s personal details was exposed onto the internet and she lost her job and more. The second girl committed suicide because her parents and her school’s head teacher were told of her theft. This type of incident is less frequent these years but still exist. It is often commenced by some ‘Keyboard Man’ who think they can judge the victim.

As internet was not introduced into China until 1999, evolution of the Chinese cyber common moral code might have followed what happened twenty or thirty years ago in Western countries. You might have seen or heard of such incidents before. I would probably say education might be the only solution, but it won’t eliminate it.

This month’s meeting, Bob Okell from Pukorokoro Miranda Shore Bird Trust is going to talk about the importance of international cooperation in the maintenance of ecosystems and how a dedicated group of people in Miranda have influenced China in implementing protection for the rest and recuperation areas on the coast of China for migrating birds.

Pukorokoro Miranda Shore Bird Trust manage the Land Family Wildfowl Trust area. This costal mudflat and shell back is a very important habitat for shorebirds to gather, feed and gain strength for the non-stop trip from New Zealand to Yellow Sea area in China and Korean costal area for the breeding season. The Chinese government is currently preparing some costal construction project which would wipe out the wetland that these shorebirds are relying on. Different New Zealand organisations, including the Pukorokoro Miranda Shore Bird Trust, are trying to convenience the Chinese government to change their mind. The NZ experts have made remarkable achievements in bringing the plight of the birds to international notice and in building relations and agreements with the countries involved.

Please try and arrive on time. The admin at the Arts Village have ask that we keep the door locked while using the building. If you find the door locked please knock or shout loud. You can always come to the other side that faces the street where there is another small door that enters our room. But mind the steps !

The meeting time and place is:
TIME: 12:30 P.M.

We will still enjoy our shared lunch before the talk. Don’t forgot the subscriptions for this year’s membership is due. Member fee is the same as last year, $15 per person or $25 per family. Thanks to those who have already paid.

One sentence news from other NZCFS branches:
Wellington: Their speaker of the month is Alistair Crozier, the current NZ Consulate-General in Chengdu Sichuan Province. Alistair will talk about the current diplomatic challenge between China and New Zealand.
Christchurch: After holding the annual conference “Rewi Alley – The Spirit Continues” in Christchurch, Chris Goodwin is going to talk about the outcome of the conference and also what we take from it.

Chinese Characteristic chapter 10: Intellectual Turbidity
Smith’s opinion in this chapter was not very clear. It seemed that he was trying to complain about a few chaotic phenomena in the Chinese language and people’s logic in conversation and daily life. I would not deny his observation about the blurred logic that Chinese people held when having interaction with him. But I would point out that during the Qing Dynasty only a very small proportion of the Chinese population could read and write, and the social hierarchy that Smith, as a missionary, could have reached in China would have been relatively low. Smith himself was well educated therefore his opinion about people’s logical thinking might include some of his personal bias.

Meanwhile, I would have to agree with Smith about his statement of the Chinese language, that “Chinese nouns are quite free from ‘gender’ and ‘case’… Chinese verbs are not hampered by any ‘voice’, ‘mode’, ‘tense’, ‘number’, or ‘person’”. I came across the same issue when teaching the intermediate Chinese class at the Rotorua Library. For example, native English speakers would say ‘I have done something”, but when this is translated into Chinese, you would use the exact same Chinese character when you talk about ‘do something’. Then you would add a ‘了’, or ‘过’ in the middle to reflect that this thing has finished: “you have do 了 something”. Although the linguistic complexity of Mandarin is relative lower than English, we can still explain things well. Actually part of the beauty of Mandarin and classic Chinese, is the beauty of omission. You probably know in Tang Dynasty, poetry was strictly ruled to be twenty or twenty eight characteristics long, and usually just one line of ten or fourteen characters would draw a very beautiful picture in your mind. I remember there was research proving that if you translate a given document into all different languages, the Mandarin version will definitely be the shortest.
Funny translation mistake
The photo was taken at the Tianchi Lake side. Tianchi is a famous high altitude mountain lake in Xinjiang. This sign was a safety sign which prohibits people getting into the lake. But it seems that the English version of it only asked you not to take water from the lake. (Missing image)


Tony Li