Power must be caged

Discussion in '中文+方言 (Chinese)' started by ThomasK, Feb 16, 2013.

  1. ThomasK Senior Member

    (near) Kortrijk, Belgium
    Belgium, Dutch
    I have just watched the Belgian-Dutch news broadcast and learnt from a Chinese critical journalist that it is the first time the Chinese authorities have formally declared that "power must be caged". is that correct? Is that the way of saying that power must be limited, bridled? Can you use other metaphors for that?

    The word was put in quotation marks in the translation, but I was intrigued by the word. We could only say it was limited, beperkt (using the word you recognize in 'park').
  2. Skatinginbc

    Skatinginbc Senior Member

    Mandarin 國語
    What language did the Chinese journalist speak when communicating with the Belgian-Dutch news agency? Mandarin or a lingua franca (e.g., English)? Without the full context and background knowledge, my intuition leans toward the possibility of American English. "Caged Power", "Cage Force", "Cagefighting", etc. are names or terms in the filed of mixed martial arts. Big Brother, an American reality TV series, has a "Caged Power of Veto competition". Quite a few American book writers and web posters have used expressions like "caged power" or "power must be caged".
  3. tarlou Senior Member

    I think I know about the news. The new Chinese president Xi Jinping said "把权力关进制度的笼子" (put powers into the cage of regulations).

    A similar sentence "把统治者关进笼子里" (something like rulers should be put into cages) is considered to be famous words of a US president. There was a speech by G. Bush spreading on Chinese websites that contains this as a key sentence. However, that speech turned out to be a rumor and was completely composed by a Chinese netizen. (http://view.news.qq.com/a/20120619/000018.htm) There are some other serious-look websites said the word was from George Washington. But I can't find an English version or a reliable source at all.

    Anyway, this metaphor is "special", and similar sentences were used a lot by some Chinese as a way to change the traditional relationship between people and government in China. That's why it became a news just by being mentioned by authorities.
  4. ThomasK Senior Member

    (near) Kortrijk, Belgium
    Belgium, Dutch
    Interesting reactions, thanks.

    @skatinginbc: the reference to martial arts might be interesting, but how do you interpret that metaphor in martial arts? I generally think that in martial arts power must be turned/... into one's advantage, not so much caged or framed (but I am not quite familiar with martial arts !).

    @tarlou: that seems quite right. It was Xi Jinping who said that. But 'special' and 'used by some Chinese': do you mean that that is 'oppositional' language/ metaphor (but now adopted by the president)?
  5. tarlou Senior Member

    Yes, but not too 'oppositional' (just 'criticism that can hardly be accepted'). The context is actually different, so the president may not mean exactly the same thing, but anyway it is still interesting.

    The expression is like a quote used in criticisms, so the answer to your question "Can you use other metaphors for that?" is probably "no". That's also why I said "special".
    Last edited: Feb 16, 2013
  6. Skatinginbc

    Skatinginbc Senior Member

    Mandarin 國語
    MMA (Mixed Martial Arts) competitors fight inside a cage. One of the reasons is to prevent their extreme fighting from hurting the audience. So there comes the name "Caged Power".
    I would go with Tarlou's explanation, which is very convincing and leads me to believe that the Dutch translation was directly from Chinese, not through English.
  7. Lucia_zwl

    Lucia_zwl Senior Member

    I think 把权力关进笼子("power must be caged") means that power must be restricted and supervised, as Xi said,
    For the "supervised" part, Wen (Prime Minister) used to say 让权力在阳光下运行, which means that power must be exercised in the sunshine.
  8. ThomasK Senior Member

    (near) Kortrijk, Belgium
    Belgium, Dutch
    Very interesting additions, thanks.

    Was not aware of cage fighting. And indeed, I think the translation was straight from Chinese to Dutch (there were even quotation marks).

    Supervising and restricting: would you think that is an explanation of caging? And 'in the sunhsine': I see, a reference to transparencency, of course. I think we have similar expressions, as in openbaar in Dutch: public, but etymologically '(out in the) open' + 'bare'...
    Last edited: Feb 17, 2013
  9. Lucia_zwl

    Lucia_zwl Senior Member

    I would say "caging" is a metaphor of "restricting" and "supervising". I think there's no such a saying in Chinese like "power must be caged" before (at least I've never heard of it before). Xi coined it, or maybe borrowed it from other language, just to make his point vivid and sound like something new.
  10. ThomasK Senior Member

    (near) Kortrijk, Belgium
    Belgium, Dutch
    Are you suggesting politicians can be "creative"? ;-)
  11. Maximus_8923 New Member

    Chinese - People's Republic of China
    I think the phrase has a slightly more positive connotation in Chinese than in the translation, but then the meaning of the translation is basically correct.
  12. viajero_canjeado Senior Member

    English - Southeastern USA
    嗯, 政治人物都要光明正大是不是 ;)

    As a side note, that's interesting about the cage fighting, but I think Xi Jinping's statement was a bit more generic and is readily understood in English to mean "putting a rein on one's exercise of power in order to prevent excesses harmful to the public."

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