As many rejoice the Lunar New Yr this week, the English use of the phrase “dragon” has struck controversy in China, together with its most worldwide metropolis, Hong Kong.
Chinese language state media like CCTV and CGTN have deserted the usage of “dragon” for a phonetic transliteration “loong”. “Loong” doesn’t observe the official romanization system used for Chinese language within the nation, hanyu pinyu, which might write it as “lengthy”.
CGTN additionally launched a video in regards to the “Lengthy Historical past of Loong,” through which the “dragon 12 months” grew to become the “loong 12 months” and “dragon dance” was “loong dance” in English.
In Hong Kong, which lately has embraced sinicization quickly, Chief Government John Lee additionally adopted Beijing’s instance when he made his remarks on the opening of the 2024 Worldwide Chinese language New Yr Night time Parade.
“We’re all right here to welcome the Yr of the ‘Loong.’ In Chinese language tradition, the ‘loong – individuals normally name it the dragon – symbolizes the Aristocracy, luck and vitality. It will be a 12 months of auspicious alternatives, and dragon-sized blessings for us all!”
Some commentators consider that the transfer displays China’s lack of cultural self-confidence and that it desires to regain the proper to talk culturally by altering the phrase into Chinese language.
It isn’t the primary instance of transliteration. Beijing has additionally changed the usage of the time period “Tibet” with “Xizang” because the romanized Chinese language title on official diplomatic and overseas affairs ministry paperwork. The change comes as Chinese language Communist Social gathering students advocate an modification to the translated title which they declare will stop the Dalai Lama from reestablishing the proper to discuss Tibet.
Using “loong” for “dragon” has aroused on-line dialogue amongst netizens in mainland China and Hong Kong. In Hong Kong, many ridiculed “loong” as sounding like being burnt in Cantonese, and mortgage – indebted – in English. That’s, the 12 months of being burnt, or the 12 months of the mortgage, neither being auspicious.
On China’s Weibo, some feedback identified that “dragons in Chinese language tradition bear optimistic meanings such nearly as good luck, whereas dragons within the West are principally thought to be symbols of evil.” Some netizens stated, “Let’s use ‘loong’ first, and we will invent higher phrases later.”
Chinese language netizens additionally corrected the New Yr greeting posted by Tesla CEO Elon Musk from “The Yr of the Dragon” to “The Yr of the LOONG.”
Cultural discourse energy
UK-based Hong Kong historian Hans Yeung advised Radio Free Asia that the West holds a one-sided view of the dragon, perceiving it to be hostile to individuals and cruel whereas the Chinese language consider that the dragon is an attractive and auspicious object. He stated the Chinese language Communist Social gathering’s transfer is to regain the proper to talk culturally.
“It now feels that it’s a huge cultural nation, and it hopes that all the things will solely inform good Chinese language tales, and doesn’t need others to suppose that Chinese language dragons are evil.”
Yeung famous that, to a sure extent, China is whitewashing its personal tradition to advertise its good facet, “a type of cultural hypnosis.”
Present affairs commentator Chip Tsao stated the transfer mirrored China’s lack of cultural self-confidence, utilizing trivial issues to hype up points.
“[China] feels a way of inferiority, however altering the title is ineffective as a result of the phrase ‘loong’ is illogical and the which means can’t be conveyed to Westerners in any respect,” Tsao stated.
“In fact, ‘dragon’ can’t be used, however the dragon character in Chinese language tradition may be seen as a unity of fine and evil, the place the evil is Qin Shi Huang.”
Image of imperial energy
In Chinese language historical past, the acquisition and consolidation of royal energy was carefully associated to the dragon. The dragon was a logo of imperial energy. The emperor was additionally known as the “The True Dragon” or “Son of Heaven” and gadgets used within the palace had been embellished with dragons. The dragon is worshiped by the Chinese language individuals and represents the Aristocracy and luck.
Nonetheless, the dragon has additionally been seen as degenerating into a logo of cruelty in Chinese language tradition. Tsao famous that the biggest dragon in China is the “ancestral dragon”, the primary emperor of the Qin dynasty Qin Shi Huang who ushered in tyranny. Dragon doesn’t symbolize peace; “dragon warfare” is a warfare between separatist regimes and the battle to grow to be emperor.
In Western societies, dragons are used on flags, together with that of Wales. There’s a purple dragon within the middle of the flag, which was traditionally utilized in battles in opposition to invaders.
Translated by RFA workers. Edited by Mike Firn.