The following opinion piece considers a hypothetical scenario in which the USA and China's coronavirus death numbers were reversed:

假如死亡30万人的是中国 会发生什么,2020年12月15日。

My translation: To sum up, supposing China today in the global common disaster became the one with the worst response and greatest losses, the USA and the west's ideological attack would be tsunami-grade, and extend [延伸开来 (??)], leading to great and long-reaching confrontation.

Question: How should I understand 延伸开来 in the above?

延伸 means "extend/spread" but 开来 is perhaps some kind of complement I'm unfamiliar with.

  • 延伸开来 means "to stretch it out". 开来 can be taken as "out". In the context, the author is saying "to extend/stretch out that 意识形态攻击".
    – dan
    Dec 17, 2020 at 4:10

2 Answers 2


延伸開來 is somewhat vague in this context, but one could guess the author meant something in the neighborhood of:

  • "if this attack is allowed to continue"
  • "if this attack is allowed to expand to other fronts"
  • "if our argument about the attack is taken to its logical conclusion"
  • "and this attack will continue"
  • "and this attack will expand to other fronts"

My first impression favors the "if" readings, because I would write this differently if I were to emphasize the "and" readings. So if we take this vagueness into account, the shortest natural translation would be "by extension."

It is perhaps the easiest to parse the phrase as 延伸+開+來:

  • 開 attached to a verb suggests a sense of "broadening" or "spreading," as in 打開 "open up (a book, a window)," 張開 "spread out (one's arms)," or 放開 "release (one's hands, a burden)." You could say 開 is made redundant by 延伸, but the construction just sounds unnatural without 開.
  • 來 is difficult to translate exactly because it simply conveys direction, namely, "outward"; in this sense, it serves the same purpose as 開. 來 is not strictly necessary in the examples below, but I cannot think of a sentence that sounds natural with just 延伸開.

The same construction in different contexts:

  • 一定要把重點從小節中區分開來 "we must separate out the focus from the fine details"
  • 病毒從醫院裏擴散開來以後,一共感染了五十多人 "since the spread of the virus from the hospital, it affected north of fifty people"

My try:

These ideological attacks will spread (out into other areas, e.g. trading, copy-right, human right, ..., etc), leading to greater and long-term confrontations.

"長遠" here mean long duration in time, not spatial.

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