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I want to say the following:

过了这几十年,中国的经济发展了很多,但是 [at the expense of]中国的环境。

I'm not sure if the last part of the sentence is how I would say "at the expense of China's environment"; it was more of a literal translation.

Could someone please help me correctly translate this?

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4 Answers 4

I disagree with trying to translate English idioms or sentence structures word for word into Chinese. I would suggest that something like this would capture your intended meaning in a more natural way:

这几十年来,中国的经济发展了很多,但却牺牲了自然环境。

This suggests that the environment was collateral damage. If you wanted to put more emphasis on the extent of environmental destruction as the source of growth:

这几十年来,中国牺牲了生态环境,换取经济的快速发展。

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I don't know if I would call it an idiom. "At the expense of" has a very literal meaning. –  tofu_bacon Aug 19 at 6:55
    
@tofu_bacon That's why I also said "sentence structure" ;) I'm not sure which it is, but I just meant in general. Many English phrases don't have a nice fully compatible equivalent in Chinese. –  Semaphore Aug 19 at 7:09

What we often hear nowadays in the news reports or critics is that “这是以破坏/牺牲环境为代价的”. Hence you can see 'at the expense / cost of' can be translated into '以...为代价'.

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Replace the original with the following sentence:

..., 可是中國的環境卻付出了很高的代價

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2  
Is it meant to be 环 not 还? –  Ming Aug 19 at 2:53
    
@Ming Thanks for the correction. –  George Aug 19 at 13:25

這幾十年來, 中國經濟長足增長, 卻為此犧牲了自然生態.

If you want to maintain the order of the clauses, you can add "為此" to emphasize/highlight the relation of the economy and the environment.

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1  
is it awkward to use "为此“ in this way? –  tofu_bacon Aug 19 at 6:58
    
I don't think so .... –  Henry HO Aug 19 at 7:04

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