One of many charming touches in Seth MacFarlane's Oscar-hosting role -- remember that? -- was the line about those wacky, funny-talking Hispanics. It was a good thing, he said, that Salma Hayek, Javier Bardem, and Penelope Cruz were all so easy on the eyes, since "we" could barely understand a word they say.
Seth got some flak for that in America, but they appreciate him here in China. According to Still and Always My Favorite Newspaper™, the China Daily, the country's foreign minister, Yang Jiechi, had this exchange with a French reporter at his news conference yesterday. Here's how the story looks, with details below:
Foreign reporters flaunt their Mandarin skillsYes, I did notice the "with a big smile" touch; and this story caught my eye mainly because I find it droll. At the same time, I am trying to imagine the counterpart in America: a Secretary of State Clinton or Kerry hearing a question from a German or Japanese reporter and, before answering, noting that the questioner's English is "so good" that it can actually be understood. It's another little marker on the long road of China's developing a sense of ease as an international presence and power.
Caroline Puel, French magazine Le Point correspondent in Beijing, was surprised twice on Saturday at the press conference with China's Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi.
Besides getting a chance to ask a question out of the hundreds of reporters at the scene, Puel also got high marks from Yang for her Chinese.
"Your Chinese is so good I can understand your question without asking you to repeat it", Yang told her with a big smile.
Bonus Favorite Newspaper™ Detail. Here's today's front page:
Yeah, I could go for some of those cyber rules myself. This morning all of my normal VPNs appear to be blocked, and I am filing this by working out some rococo routing to the Atlantic's corporate VPN, which is not really designed for this sort of international intrigue. The accompanying story is actually worth reading for the Chinese perspective on the ongoing cyber wars. For instance this detail, which is how the situation is often described from the Chinese point of view:
Cyber security has become an increasingly prominent issue as security threats in a peaceful era, and seems another way for Western powers to apply pressure to contain China's rise, they [various Chinese officials] say.
Wen Weiping, a professor at the School of Software and Microelectronics at Peking University, put forward his explanation on the belligerence.
The US believes it is justified to launch military attacks on any country that launches cyber attacks threatening its cyber space, he said, and it must raise a fuss against such alleged attacks to build up a case. Wen said the US also aims to strengthen its cyber security forces as a deterrent and maintain its advantage during the information war.
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James Fallows is a staff writer for The Atlantic and has written for the magazine since the late 1970s. He has reported extensively from outside the United States and once worked as President Carter's chief speechwriter. He and his wife, Deborah Fallows, are the authors of the new book Our Towns: A 100,000-Mile Journey Into the Heart of America, which has been a New York Times best seller and is the basis of a forthcoming HBO documentary.