I want to say the following:

过了这几十年,中国的经济发展了很多,但是 [at the expense of]中国的环境。

I'm not sure if the last part of the sentence is how I would say "at the expense of China's environment"; it was more of a literal translation.

Could someone please help me correctly translate this?

4 Answers 4


I disagree with trying to translate English idioms or sentence structures word for word into Chinese. I would suggest that something like this would capture your intended meaning in a more natural way:


This suggests that the environment was collateral damage. If you wanted to put more emphasis on the extent of environmental destruction as the source of growth:


  • 1
    I don't know if I would call it an idiom. "At the expense of" has a very literal meaning. Aug 19, 2014 at 6:55
  • @tofu_bacon That's why I also said "sentence structure" ;) I'm not sure which it is, but I just meant in general. Many English phrases don't have a nice fully compatible equivalent in Chinese.
    – Semaphore
    Aug 19, 2014 at 7:09

What we often hear nowadays in the news reports or critics is that “这是以破坏/牺牲环境为代价的”. Hence you can see 'at the expense / cost of' can be translated into '以...为代价'.


Replace the original with the following sentence:

..., 可是中國的環境卻付出了很高的代價

  • 2
    Is it meant to be 环 not 还?
    – Ming
    Aug 19, 2014 at 2:53

這幾十年來, 中國經濟長足增長, 卻為此犧牲了自然生態.

If you want to maintain the order of the clauses, you can add "為此" to emphasize/highlight the relation of the economy and the environment.

  • 1
    is it awkward to use "为此“ in this way? Aug 19, 2014 at 6:58
  • I don't think so ....
    – Henry HO
    Aug 19, 2014 at 7:04

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