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I quote the following CNN article:

Chinese President Xi Jinping has called on troops to "put all (their) minds and energy on preparing for war" in a visit to a military base in the southern province of Guangdong on Tuesday, according to state news agency Xinhua.

During an inspection of the People's Liberation Army Marine Corps in Chaozhou City, Xinhua said Xi told the soldiers to "maintain a state of high alert" and called on them to be "absolutely loyal, absolutely pure, and absolutely reliable."
Ben Westcott, Chinese President Xi Jinping tells troops to focus on 'preparing for war', CNN, 14 October 2020.

The CNN article links directly to the source, from which I quote the relevant parts:

习近平指出,要把全部心思和精力放在备战打仗上,保持高度戒备状态。……

习近平强调,要坚持党对军队绝对领导,加强党的创新理论武装,狠抓全面从严治党、全面从严治军,确保部队绝对忠诚、绝对纯洁、绝对可靠。……
习近平视察海军陆战队, Xinhua News, 13 October 2020.

Except for the word "(their)" CNN's translations from this article are identical to the result from Google Translate:

[Google Translate:] Xi Jinping pointed out that we must put all our minds and energy on preparing for war and maintain a state of high alert.

[Google Translate:] Xi Jinping emphasized that it is necessary to uphold the party's absolute leadership over the military, strengthen the party's innovative theoretical arms, pay close attention to comprehensively and strictly govern the party and the military, and ensure that the troops are absolutely loyal, absolutely pure, and absolutely reliable.

So it appears as if CNN used Google Translate here. However, there's some important nuance in the first part (the other parts seem unproblematic): "preparing for war" sounds rather different to "being prepared against war". It comes from 备战打仗 which seems to mean something like "ready for war":

  • 备战 = "prepared against war / to prepare for war / warmongering"
  • 打仗 = "to fight a battle / to go to war"

Particularly unexpected for me is the "-ing" suffix (in "preparing") since 备战打仗 doesn't seem to be used as a verb in the 放在……上 grammar structure.

Question: How accurate is CNN's (or Google Translate's) translation of 把全部心思和精力放在备战打仗上 as "put all our minds and energy on preparing for war"?

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Don't all countries rattle sabres? Don't all countries 'prepare for war'?

'Prepare for war' is ambiguous. It either means 'prepare to be attacked' or 'prepare to attack'. Politicians like to leave things dangling.

In my opinion, the translation is flawed and biased.

Xi Jinping pointed out,
习近平指出,

要把全部心思和精力放在备战打仗上,
(we) must put all our thoughts and energy into preparing for battle,

保持高度戒备状态。
into maintaining a high state of alert.

习近平强调,
Xi Jingping stressed,

要坚持党对军队绝对领导,
we must persevere with our party's unconditional leadership of the armed forces,

加强党的创新理论武装,
strengthen our party's innovative theory division,

狠抓全面从严治党、全面从严治军,
pay close attention to maintaining strict discipline in our party and our armed forces,

确保部队绝对忠诚、绝对纯洁、绝对可靠。
and ensure our troops are absolutely loyal, reliable and in immaculate condition.

The Party cares about the Chinese people. I cannot believe that Xi Jingping, or China, would ever prepare for an offensive war. But every country must prepare its defence. Anything else is negligence.

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  • Thomas Hardy once said, "My argument is that War makes rattling good history, but peace is poor reading" – Wayne Cheah Oct 15 at 3:35
  • Haha, I thought he just wrote West Country crim du passion! I'm pretty sure I got the 绝对纯洁 bit wrong: it probably alludes to towing the party line, no deviance from the official party dogma. Otherwise, it doesn't really make much sense to me. We don't need 'pure soldiers', we need well oiled killing machines! – Pedroski Oct 16 at 1:23
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把全部心思和精力放在备战打仗上 --> "put all our minds and energy on preparing for war"

It is an acceptable translation

  • 把全部心思和精力 - take all our minds and energy

  • [放在 (put) ] 备战 (preparing for war) 打仗 (war) [上 (on)]

  • 备战 and 打仗 can be used as verb phrases because they are separable verbs that made up of [v + n], and [v + n] verb phrase can be used as a noun. For example, we cannot say 放在前進上 because 前進 is a [v + v] verb; but we can say 放在打

  • 打仗 can also be a noun for 'war' e.g. 遇上打仗 (when war happens)

It seems that 打仗 (war/ battle) here is redundant since 备战 already meant "preparing for war".

A reason for saying 备战打仗 is the verb 备战 is often used metaphorically to mean any "preparation". For example, a football team's 备战 refers to their training before a match (备战球賽); A student's 备战 refers to his study before an exam (备战考试)

[备战]打仗 should be understood as "[preparing for] battle"

In a more political phrasing -- "to maintain battle preparedness" (保持战斗准备)

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