【08.4.11 英国 BBC】西方必須小心有關華人的耳語

From The Times

April 11, 2008

作者:

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Simon Barnes

Simon Barnes is the multi-award-winning chief sportswriter at The Times. He also writes a Saturday column on wildlife. His 15 books include three novels and the best-selling How To Be A Bad Birdwatcher. His latest, The Meaning of Sport, was published last autumn. He lives in Suffolk with his family and five horses

原文:

West must be careful with Chinese whispers

Simon Barnes

If you stay here much longer you’ll all be slitty-eyed

Prince Philip, to Edinburgh University students in Beijing, 1986

It seems that much of the Western world is united on the subject. The people of Tibet are living in a state of oppression, the Chinese do not respect human rights, and the build-up to the Olympic Games, to be held in Beijing in August, provides a right and proper platform for the expression of reservations about the Chinese.

Which is all very well so far as it goes. But is it the Chinese Government we dislike so much? Or is it the Chinese people? Is the problem one of ethics? Or is it one of race? I have a feeling that the two have got ever-so-slightly mixed. Perhaps we should try to unmuddle ourselves.

I must say, the torch relay was clearly put together by someone who wished to maximise Western fear and suspicion of the Chinese. Every step, the torch was surrounded by Chinese men in tracksuits. No one knew who they were, what they were doing, what their status was. They were just there, looking menacing and — let’s be frank here — indistinguishable one from the other.

This was a machine, a sinister band of inhuman robots inscrutably keeping the symbol of freedom for themselves, to be used for their own dark ends. Well, that’s what it looked like to many people who saw it. It was a wonderfully inept piece of PR: an image of stony-faced China against the world.

There are deep fears about China lurking in the breast of the West. There are so many of them: 1.3 billion of them and only 60 million of us Brits. It’s impossible to imagine being one of so many: we can only see it as the instant death of the individual.

Then there is the silent military threat: as Tom Lehrer sang as far back as 1965: “China got the bomb, but have no fears / They can’t wipe us out for at least five years.” China has never been an ally, but never been quite an enemy either, unlike the simple dualities of the Cold War. We have never known where to file China in our minds.

There is also the problem of the perceived homogeneity of the Chinese people: they all look the same. Well, they don’t actually. There is a smaller range of features to work with, that’s all. I lived in Hong Kong for four years and was perfectly competent at telling one person from another. (Though I remember a friend of mine describing his new Chinese girlfriend: “She’s beautiful. Small, dark hair, brown eyes. . .”)

The cultural differences can seem vast. A friend of mine, a Mandarin speaker, was attending a meeting between serious high-ups from Hong Kong (then still a British colony) and the People’s Republic. The top Hongkonger broke the ice by saying: “I have always believed that the Chinese are 90 per cent comprehensible and 10 per cent incomprehensible. I propose to concentrate on the 90 per cent I understand.” Smiles and handshakes were exchanged. But what the interpreter had said was: “He says the Chinese are 90 per cent good and 10 per cent bad. He will concentrate on the good part.” But then I remember negotiating a fee with a Chinese editor. This was hard because she was (a) beautiful and (b) disinclined to give any ground whatsoever.

“Look,” I said. “You have to move a little. After all, we in the West have this concept of saving face.”

A very Hong Kong conversation: the radically different natures and cultures of the British and the Chinese (and many others who just happened to be passing by) created, briefly, a maverick genius of a place.

Even here, there was suspicion and fear amounting to paranoia about what the Chinese over the border were up to. But this was nothing to do with concerns about the Chinese people: because many, if not most, Hong Kong Chinese shared the same fears. It was the Government we didn’t trust, not the people.

And they are separate. This is the point to bear in mind. Don’t you hate it when a foreign person picks a fight with you because you invaded Iraq? In the United States in years past, Americans in different bars demanded to know why I insisted on oppressing the Irish: bad conversations.

A lot of our fear and mistrust of China comes from the fact that it is a one-party state and that political unorthodoxy is discouraged. But it is a reckless misunderstanding to assume that the population are sublimely happy with this, and want nothing more than to serve the state. If that were so, the Chinese would indeed be a sinister lot: but the idea is absurd. I can exclusively reveal that most Chinese people wish to live happy, peaceful and fulfilling lives, to look after their families, to get enough to eat and to get a kick out of life.

Not entirely unlike us, then. So perhaps we should instigate a Cultural Revolution in the head: and look upon China not as a nation, but as place where 1.3 billion individuals happen to live.

I am not sure that this will be easy. At the Olympic Games, there will be many Chinese medal-winners. They will all have the same face and the same name, or seem to. Neither Chinese faces nor names are easily memorable at first encounter to our Western-trained minds.

These medal-winners will do the right things and say the right stuff, and we will blench. We will see them as machines, programmed by the State, doing its bidding, with no feelings or opinions of their own. But if we fail to see beyond that, we betray the libertarian principles of our society. Any time that we see any group of humans as a homogenous mass, rather than a bunch of individuals, we betray our own individuality.

Human rights! It is an emotive phrase, and an important one, but we must use it with care. It has become an instant association: China = bad record on human rights. And so the phrase has tangled itself up with the demons of our unconscious minds: so that it seems to us that the Chinese have a bad record on human rights because they really are not like the humans of the West. They behave inhumanly because they know no better: because they are not, in fact, fully human.

I think it is important, as these troubled and troubling Games approach, that we sort out what we think. If we think that the Chinese Government’s record in Tibet is a bad thing, then fine, and we are, thank God, free to say so.

But if we think — even at some level beyond rational thought — that the problem is that there is something profoundly amiss with the Chinese people themselves, then we have lost the plot. If we deny humanity to other people, we are only truly denying it in ourselves.

翻译:

翻譯引自時代雜誌 (2008年四月十一日) 西方必須小心有關華人的耳語 西蒙班士

你要是再多呆些時日,你們全都會變成眯縫眼

菲立普親王於1986年向北京的愛丁堡大學學生所言

似乎大多數西方世界對此問題上統一認為,西藏人民生活在壓迫中,中國人漠視人權,而八月在北京舉行的奧運會理所當然地提供了對中國表示保留的一個合理的平台。

這事情到此也並無不妥。可是我們到底是真那麼討厭中國政府?還是討厭中國人?這到底是個道德問題?還是一個種族問題?我感覺兩者從未曾如現在被輕微地混淆過。也許我們該自己先釐清一下。

我必須說,干擾聖火傳遞明顯是某些希望讓西方極度恐懼疑慮中國的人所泡製的。每一步,聖火都被穿上運動服的華人包圍。沒人曉得他們是誰,他們在幹嘛,他們身份如何。 他們就是在那裡,看來兇兇的-老實說-讓人沒法分辨出誰是誰來。

這是一個機器,一個由不通人情機械人組成的強悍隊伍,莫測高深地把自由的標誌留給他們自己黑暗目的所用。對,這就是許多觀眾所看到的觀感。這是個神奇荒誕的公關手筆:冰冷石像臉孔的中國與世界對峙。

我們對中國隱匿在西方胸脯有很深的恐懼。他們實在人太多:他們有13億,可我們英國人只有6千萬。實在是難以想像成為那麼多人的其中一個:我們只能構想是個體的迅速逝亡。

還有就是那隱伏的軍事威脅:就像湯李爾萊遠在1965時唱的:「中國有炸彈,可甭怕/至少他們沒法五年內把咱們一掃光」中國從來就不是盟友,可有異於冷擺明對峙的雙方,他們也不曾真的是個敵人。我們從來不知道該如何在自己腦海裡把中國往那裡歸類。

把中國人單一印象簡單歸類也有問題:他們個個看來都差不多。可他們事實上卻不一樣。但區別的特徵卻沒幾個,而確實地,也就那幾個而已。我在香港住過4年而我能完全分出某人跟別人不同。(雖然我也記得我有一朋友描述他中國新女友時說:「她很漂亮。矮個,黑髮,深棕眼睛…」)

文化差異可以很鉅大。我有一位說普通話的朋友參加一個會,會上雲集香港(當時還是英國殖民地)及大陸的高層顯要。香港顯要開聊說:「我一直覺得能理解90%中國人,有10%我無法理解,所以我建議集中我能理解的90%。」大家微笑中握手。但翻譯卻翻成:「他說中國人有90%好, 10%壞。他會集中在好的那部份。」可我記得跟一位中國編輯為稿費討價還價。這很難因為(a)她很漂亮,而且(b)就是不留餘地。「哎」我說「妳總得讓一點嘛。怎麼說,我們西方有留情面這概念。」 很香港式的對話:英式與港式截然不同的性質與文化(以及其它偶然遇上的)簡單來說,締造了當地的一個不羈的怪傑。

就連(香港)這裡兒,對邊界另一邊的中國人意欲何為也有驚弓之鳥的疑慮。但這完全與中國人無關:就算不是大多數,還是有很多香港人有同樣疑慮。我們不是對人沒信心,而是對那政府沒信心。

我們必須謹記:這兩者是兩回事。要是一個外國人因你入侵伊拉克而故意找你麻煩,你能不火大? 過去數年在美國不少酒吧裡的美國人都追問為什麼我堅持要抑制愛爾蘭人:很倒胃口的話題。

我們對中國許多的恐懼和沒信心來自它是個一黨專政的國家,與他們不鼓勵政治異見。可是假設那裡的人由衷擁護這做法,而且一心忠心服務國家至上是相當魯莽草率的。如果真是那樣,那中國人就是不折不扣兇悍的群體:可是這想法是荒謬絕倫的。我可以斷言絕大多數的中國人希望活得快樂平安有盼頭,能好好照顧家人,吃得飽和出人頭地。

這跟我們並沒太大分別。似乎我們應該給腦袋來個文化大革命:不要把中國視為一個大國,而只是一塊有十三億人口快樂生活的地方而已。

我不確定那會很容易。奧運會上肯定有許多中國獎牌得主。他們長著同樣臉孔,有同樣的名字,至少聽起來是那樣。中國臉孔跟名字對我們西式訓練的腦袋都不是一看就容易記住的。

這些獎牌得主都會言行規規矩矩的,然後我們會臉白了。我們會把他們看成是國家編製的機械,進行各樣賽事,沒有自己感受或想法。可是如果我們不能突破透視這種認識,那我們就背叛我們社會自由主義的原則。

每當我們把一群人看成是單一族群而不是一群獨立個體時,我們就背叛了自己的個體性。

人權!它是個讓人動容而且很重要的詞彙,但我們必須慎用它。現在,中國=惡劣人權記錄成了某種立時的聯想。這麼一來,這詞彙就跟我們不自覺的意識中的惡魔混為一談:於是乎我們覺得中國人之所以有惡劣人權記錄乃由於他們的確跟西方人有所不同。他們表現不人道是因為他們根本不懂更好水準的:因為事實上他們本來就不是文明人。

面對這紛擾而且持續紛擾下去的奧運手法,我覺得釐清我們思考是十分重要的。如果我們認為中國政府處理西藏的記錄很糟,那沒問題,感謝上蒼,我們有那自由暢所欲言。

但如果我們認為-那怕是某程度的理性思考-現在問題出自中國人民本身存在一些大毛病,那我們就全盤輸了。如果我們不能人道看待別人,其實我們只是在對自己否定人道而已。