Saturday, July 15, 2006

Great Leap West? Are you kidding me?

This morning I read the op-ed in the NYT by Richard Gere, decrying the new railroad line that makes Lhasa accessible to outsiders by rail for the first time. I notice that he refers to the project as part of the Chinese government's project to develop the west, "known as the Great Leap West." My question is: known by whom as the Great Leap West? My sense is that the opponents of the Chinese presence in Tibet coined this term, and that the Chinese government itself does not use the words Great Leap anything to describe current projects. But my five minutes of Internet research were unable to resolve the question to my satisfaction, so I now set the readers of Lumpenlogocracy (all both of you) loose on it.

Surely, surely, the Chinese government itself would not associate anything they are doing now with the disastrous Great Leap Forward of the late '50s, which brought on one of the worst famines in history. A Google search on "Great Leap West" yields 87,000 hits, but neither a Google nor a Baidu search on the term 大跃西 gets any hits at all, which makes me think my hunch is right, that the term originated in the offices of an English-speaking NGO rather than those of Zhongnanhai. Is there another possible Chinese translation for "Great Leap West"? Anyone happen to know the origins of the phrase?

1 comment:

christian_left said...

I don't have any special wisdom to contribute, but I do want to thank thirdpartydreamer for knocking that demonic photo of Dick Cheney off the top of our page. It was amusing at first, but the longer we neglected to publish any new posts, the more it seemed he was taunting us for having nothing to say.