‘A war within the president’s term’ or ‘war breaking out tonight’ are not just slogans, they are becoming a practical reality,” it said.
China ‘steps up preparedness for possible military conflict with US’, 27 January 2017.

The above is is a translation from a 2017 article. SCMP doesn't link to the relevant article, but according to this website, the quote comes from this article:

军人因打仗而生,一丝一毫的懈怠都不能有, 20 January 2017 (the same date as former US President Donald Trump's inauguration).

There's certain parts of this translation I'm skeptical about, such as the mention of "the president" and "war breaking out", which doesn't seem to match the Chinese. Also, I'm not familiar with the phrase 一种现实存在.

Question: How accurate is SCMP's translation of “任期内打仗”“今晚准备打仗”不是一句口号,而是一种现实存在?

  • 2
    imo, the translation is quite accurate. Oct 31, 2021 at 10:26

2 Answers 2


The English translation got the sense quite right, although the translation is not literal.

In particular, the first phrase, “任期内打仗" did not say whose term, and the translation added "the president", probably inaccurately.

Having read the original article in Chinese, I do not see any explicit referral to the president (Xi). The overall tone is certainly related to president Xi (as the head of the PLA), but for that specific phrase, it probably refers to the term of officers of various ranks (or even just the soldiers), in the following sense: people easily get lazy; they tend to hope/pray/assume/dream that during their "term" (officers or soldiers) no war would happen (i.e., "任期内_不_会打仗"), which implies that if they did not get done what they are supposed to do, nobody will find out and they won't get punished (since often times military issues won't stand out until a war breaks out); the slogan "任期内会打仗" is to burst their (i.e., officers & soldiers') bubbles (break their wishful thinking/unrealistic dreams).

  • Upvoted. The article is not the government calling on ordinary people, but military people speaking to fellow military people, saying "we (military people) should always be prepared".
    – Betty
    Nov 1, 2021 at 5:05
  • "任期内会打仗", it probably hid the person who said that deliberately. It might be that the readers who are interested in this topic are supposed to know who.
    – dan
    Nov 1, 2021 at 7:52

Question: How accurate is SCMP's translation of “任期内打仗” “今晚准备打仗”不是一句口号,而是一种现实存在?

To closely reflect the meaning of the Chinese sentence - “‘A war within the president’s term’ or ‘war breaking out tonight’ are not just slogans, they are becoming a practical reality,” it can be said as:

  • “‘A (US-China) war within Donald Trump's term’ or ‘preparedness of (a US-China) war breaking out tonight (at any time)’ is no longer a slogan but a realistic assessment,"

Given the hostility expressed by the Donald Trump administration's China policy, it is quite understandable that the Chinese press is dutifully delivering the warning from the military/government to its people and call for preparedness. The origin of the Chinese citations was not disclosed, but both the sentences made in Chinese and English are not well written in the sense of literacy.

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