爱思英语编者按:《经济学人》是一份由伦敦经济学人报纸有限公司出版的杂志,于1843年9月由詹姆士·威尔逊创办。杂志的写作风格十分有特色,注重于如何在最小的篇幅内告诉读者最多的信息,大多数文章写得机智,幽默,有力度,严肃又不失诙谐。从2012年1月28日出版的最新一期开始,英国《经济学人》杂志开辟了新的中国专栏,为有关中国的文章提供更多的版面。这是70年来,该杂志首次为一个国家开辟专栏。上一次为国家开辟专栏,是在1942年开辟的美国专栏。 

The Economist in China

《经济学人》在中国

Old hands

老江湖

IN OUR nearly 170-year history, The Economist’s coverage of China’s Boxer Uprising of 1900 was not a high point. On July 21st 1900, under the headline, “The Situation in China”, we reported without a shred of doubt that the Chinese government had “succeeded in murdering all the Ambassadors of all the Powers who sent representatives to Pekin, with their wives, secretaries, interpreters, and guards.” We adjudged that “China has deliberately inflicted upon all Europe and Japan an insult without a precedent in history,” and that Europe “must avenge it in some adequate way.”

在《经济学人》近170年的刊史中,对1900年中国义和团运动的报道难称亮点。1900年7月21日的“中国形势”一文以不容置疑的口吻写道:“中国政府对向北京派驻代表的强国举起屠刀,杀害了所有国家的大使以及他们的夫人、秘书、翻译和卫兵。”文章评论道,“这是中国对欧洲国家和日本的前所未有的肆意侮辱”,欧洲“必须给予适当方式的还击”。

If you missed this unprecedented mass murder of diplomats in your history books, that is because it did not happen (though the embassy district was indeed under siege by the Boxers for 55 days); it was a fiction propagated by Western newspapers, led by London’s Daily Mail and then the Times, with The Economist joining in days later but no less ardently (the newspapers later backtracked, without apology). The vicious and disproportionate response of the troops of the Allied powers to the Boxer threat, just 11 years before the downfall of the Qing dynasty, is now fixed in the Chinese lore of Western oppression.

如果你在历史课本中并没有找到关于这次针对外交人员的空前大屠杀的只言片语,那是因为此事根本就从未发生过,虽然使馆区确实被义和团围困了55天。这件事情完全是西方媒体的蓄意捏造,由《每日邮报》最先发起,《泰晤士报》接过大旗,后来加入的《经济学人》热情也是丝毫不减(后来这些报纸对此事改口,但从未做过任何道歉)。满清王朝灭亡前11年八国联军对义和团危机的过激反应和丧心病狂、罪行滔天的恶性报复,作为西方列强对中国残酷迫害的苦难记忆,被深深地印在了中国人的脑海里。

So it is with humility that we suggest that the quality of our reporting on China has improved somewhat since then. One crucial improvement is that we have our own feet on the ground in China, now numbering more than ever—three pairs of them in Beijing, one pair soon in Shanghai, we hope, and more in Hong Kong (as well as our colleagues in the Economist Intelligence Unit, our sister company). Four weeks ago, we began devoting a section to China in the print edition each week, the first time we have added an individual country report since we added America 70 years ago. Now we have introduced this blog on China as a companion to the expanded print coverage.

所以,怀着一丝歉意与惶恐,我们需要指出,自那以后,我们对于中国的报道的质量有所提高。很重要的一个原因就是我们在中国有着自己的报道人员,如今他们的人数比以往任何时候都多,我们在北京有3名记者,上海也很快会有一名,香港更多(还包括姐妹公司“经济学人智库”的同事)。4周前,我们开始在每周的印刷版中开设中国专栏,这是70年前加入美国专栏以来首次单独为一个国家开设专栏。现在我们又开设了这个关于中国的博客,以配合印刷版中的更多报道。

But even with fewer or no feet on the ground, The Economist has been opining on this place since the newspaper’s first months of publication in 1843, when updates from “Canton” arrived in the post, by way of a slow boat. The first extended analysis of China came in the eighth issue, dated October 14th 1843. The subject may ring a bit familiar: the potential of China’s consumer market to buy foreign imports. The Economist’s founding editor, the Scottish businessman James Wilson (who in those days wrote virtually the entire newspaper) was not bullish: “The truth is, it requires something more than treaties between governments to make trade.” Mr Wilson observed trenchantly that Chinese consumers have their own peculiar needs that are not met by foreign products, and that their incomes will need to rise as well. “We must not forget” of the Chinese, he wrote (without a byline, same as today), “… the mere liberty or opportunity of buying our goods, does not confer on them at once the ability to do so.” By 2012, it can now be noted, the consumer market for foreign luxury goods developed rather nicely.

但即使是在缺少中国报道人员的时候,在1843年《经济学人》创刊发行的头几个月里,当来自广州的消息通过慢速邮轮抵达邮局,它就已经开始报道中国。首个关于中国的深入报道出现在1843年10月14日的第8期,主题或许似曾相识:中国市场对进口产品的消费潜力。《经济学人》的创刊编辑,苏格兰商人詹姆斯•威尔逊对此并不十分乐观:“事实上,要想进行贸易,需要的可不仅仅是政府条约”,他那时负责撰写几乎整张报纸。威尔逊敏锐地注意到,中国消费者有着外国商品很难满足的独特需求,中国人的收入也有待提高。他写道(像今天一样并未在标题下署名),“我们要明白,对于中国人来说,仅仅为他们提供一个可以自由购买我们产品的机会并不等于就给了他们可以马上购买的能力。”而到了今天的2012年,中国的进口奢侈品市场发展的是不错了。

In December 1843, The Economist relayed its first reported anecdotes about China: tales of foreigners being deceived by fake Chinese products. These included, according to one written account, “counterfeit hams” made of wood, coated in dirt and wrapped with an outer layer of hog’s s