In China's officialdom there is a penalty called 约谈, which roughly means an appointment between higher authorities and the official who is going to be held accountable for his misbehavior or wrongdoing.

But really what kind of penalty is that? Does the boss threaten the firing of his subordinates during the dated talk? Could anyone share his opinion?

  • find explanation on web:e.g. baike.baidu.com/item/%E7%BA%A6%E8%B0%88
    – user6065
    Aug 1, 2017 at 15:49
  • 因為這些事情沒有明確的法律可適用,所以就是“討論” + "分析問題“ + ”糾正“。總之,就是沒有法律處罰。糾正不力的會給領導紀律處罰。 Aug 2, 2017 at 1:09
  • haha, are you sure you do not already know the answer to this question??  In my opinion, I look to the character makeup of the word (谈)
    – Abe Shudug
    Aug 2, 2017 at 3:29
  • I can make a guess, but I want to hear more about this subject from different sources. No such action is available in western countries. Aug 2, 2017 at 4:12
  • Same as when your girlfriend says "we need to talk", or HR asks you to have a meeting. It's a polite way of saying something's not ok. It can vary from minor to very bad.
    – jf328
    Aug 2, 2017 at 9:46

3 Answers 3


约谈 is not a penalty, but it indicates or implies or leads to an subsequent penalty, like hold by authorities.

约谈 just means someone who are in a higher authority dated you to talk about some problems. In Chinese culture, it is not good, but not very serious.

It may lead to a subsequent penalty, if the higher authority think your problem is serious or you are not honest on your problem. Sometimes 约谈 is just a warning, it depends on what you talked to them. You can't tell them all and you can't tell nothing, you can't tell them the truth and you can't tell them a total lie, they will all result in a very bad situation. So how to talk in a 约谈 is an art :)

If you see an officer is 约谈 in a newspaper or official website then his political life is in danger, he may be charged by some of his misdoings soon. But if he is an entrepreneur then he is OK, he just need to adjust his entreprises to follow the government's will or cooperate with the government. Sometimes government authority 约谈 entreprises or entrepreneurs.


From baidu baike:


My translation attempt:

Yuētán is a rather Chinese particular system. It refers to the use of concrete, executive political authority to meet up to "negotiate" (yuē) and "discuss" (tán). Studying policy legislation, analyzing criticism, etc. directed at the problems pertaining to operations within lower ranking organizations, Yuētán applies administrable correctional and standardizing measures.

This confusing jargon (any translation help here would be appreciated) suggests that 约谈 Yuētán may involve any number things. It is more likely than not a purposely flexibly designed term.

  • google translate result seems to be competitive
    – user6065
    Aug 1, 2017 at 20:39

约谈 means the boss have something to talk with you, it is can be regular meeting from a new boss. "Hey, I am your new boss, you don't want to make troubes, don't you."

Sometimes means the boss do not agree with you, "Hey, I have noticed your new policy, you want to revise it, don't you?"

For the most of the time, is is a warning, "Hey, I am watching you".

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