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中国实行独立自主的和平外交政策。 ✓
中国执行独立自主的和平外交政策。 ✗
杨寄洲 et al.,1700对近义词语用法对比, p.1514 (original)

The above example comes from a reference book which describes the differences and similarities between Chinese synonyms. It lists 政策 as a collocation for both...

CC-CEDICT: 实行 (shí​xíng​) to implement / to carry out / to put into practice
CC-CEDICT: 执行 (zhí​xíng​) to implement / to carry out / to execute / to run

So I don't see why 执行 is considered incorrect in the example above.

Question: In the above, why is 实行 correct, and 执行 incorrect?

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  • 实行 is "operate" or "carry out"; 执行 is "execute", they are quite different from each other.
    – r13
    Aug 10 at 23:19
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实行 has the sense of applying. E.g. apply a policy/law/regulation/etc, as in 实行计划生育. It's abstract.

执行 is more of execution upon certain rules. It's specific. E.g. 执行死刑.

But there could be some overlaps in usage in some circumstances.

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实行 - "implement", "carry out", "to put into practice"

执行 - "carry out", "implement", "to execute"

It seems the two have some overlap, however, 实行 is to carry out/implement/put into practice the policies settled through discussion and agreed by all policymakers. The act is timeless.

执行 is to carry out/implement/execute the order from the superior, or the established policies, the act is usually conducted in a short duration, or within a finite time frame.

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执行 imply "to enforce an existing rule on objects"

独立自主的和平外交政策 is the government's own goal, which cannot be enforced on any object.

  • 实行 means "to implement/ to establish" but 执行 doesn't e.g. 实行反歧視法 means to implement (establish) the anti-discrimination law, while 执行反歧視法 means to execute (enforce) the anti-discrimination law (to force someone to comply)

  • 执行 means "to execute" but 实行 doesn't e.g. 执行家法 cannot be changed to 实行家法

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