‘Fire at will:’ Locsin order gets lost in translation
Foreign Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. on Thursday called the attention of the Chinese Embassy after his statement in relation to China’s latest incursions into the country’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ) in the South China Sea apparently got lost in translation.
In a Twitter post, Locsin said Chinese social media apparently had a different take on the “fire at will” directive that he gave to his legal team, an instruction to issue a diplomatic protest over the recent sighting of more than 200 Chinese vessels at Julian Felipe (Whitsun) Reef.
He said the Chinese seemed to have mistaken the phrase “fire at will” to mean an order to actually use weapons against the vessels.
The “Chinese Embassy said that in Chinese social media my expression ‘fire at will’—unmistakably our diplomatic protest—is portrayed in Chinese characters as an order to fire guns at Chinese boats. I am not responsible for totalitarian distortions of plain English. Correct it yourself,” Locsin said.
On Sunday night, the foreign secretary tweeted: “So recommended by General (Hermogenes) Esperon (Jr.) this noon by WhatsApp. I got coordinates, so to speak. And relayed to my legal artillery, ‘Fire at will.’ Shell should be flying at first light. I don’t usually announce maneuvers but it seems everybody is baring his chest.”
Locsin, in another post on Thursday, said in jest that the Chinese Embassy should instead get Zhang Jing, a recent internet sensation, to translate his tweets next time.
“@Chinaembmanila The beautiful and much smarter Chinese translator at Anchorage should translate my tweets next time. She was, though it was the longest statement in modern diplomacy, unfailingly accurate, idiomatic and true in her transliteration … no more, interpretation. Kudos,” he said.
Serving as a translator, Zhang drew praise for her skill and poise in handling State Councillor Yang Jiechi’s opening remarks at the start of talks between senior US and Chinese officials in Alaska last week.
Chinese media referred to her as “China’s principal pnterpreter” and “China’s most beautiful interpreter.”
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