Chinese Vocabulary Notes 16

Chinese vocabulary notes (February + March 2023)

In this edition: Wuhan retired workers protest, new trend of middle-aged people leaving first-tier cities, Chinese spy balloon, perfectionism, pregnancy and “Red Roulette”.

Wuhan Retired Workers Protest Medical Insurance Reform

At the beginning of February, retired workers in Wuhan gathered in front of the Wuhan Municipal Government to protest against the health insurance reform implemented that same month. Chinese Journalist in exile 王志安 explains the background of the reform. He discusses why so many people oppose it, and if their reasons for opposition are valid. Last but not least, he has some ideas of his own on how to successfully reform medical insurance in China.

As always a clear and highly informative “insider perspective” on current affairs in China.

Level indication: HSK 5 / 6 (with Chinese / English subtitles)

国歌guógēNational anthem
退休工tuìxiū gōngretiree
上街抗议shàng jiē kàngyìtake to the streets to protest
个人医保账户gèrén yībǎozhànghùIndividual Health Insurance Account
统筹账户tǒngchóu zhànghùpooled account
医保制度yībǎo zhìdùmedical insurance system
医疗保障体系yīliáo bǎo zhàng tǐxìmedical security system
存折cúnzhépassbook, savings
医保卡yībǎo kǎmedicare card
医保改革yībǎo gǎigéhealth care reform
门诊ménzhěnoutpatient prescription
不报销的bù bàoxiāonot reimbursed
住院率zhùyuàn lǜhospitalization rate

Middle-aged leaving first-tier cities

A new trend in China: more and more middle-aged people choose to leave the large 1-tier cities like Shanghai, Beijing and Shenzhen for a simpler (and more affordable?) life in smaller cities. What is a “small city” in China anyway? According to 2017 statistics, China has about 102 cities with over 1 million people living in the urban area.

Level indication: HSK 5

中年人逃离北上广Zhōng nián rén táolí běishàng guǎngmiddle-aged people flee Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou
一线城市yīxiàn chéngshìtier 1 cities
百万富翁bǎi​wàn​fù​wēng millionaire
繁重的工作fánzhòng de gōngzuòtedious work
焦虑的生活jiāolǜ de shēnghuóanxious life
教育基金jiàoyù jījīnEducation fund (financial resources for their children’s future education)
养老金yǎnglǎo jīnpension
令人厌倦lìng rén yànjuàntiresome

What is it like to be pregnant in China?

What is it like to be pregnant in China? This is the kind of question you can’t Google. Eileen discusses with new mom Jane, her experience in going through a recent pregnancy in Mainland China.

Level indication: HSK 4 / 5

孕妇yùnfùpregnant woman
做产检zuò chǎnjiǎnprenatal checkup
B超B chāoultrasound
宫缩频繁gōngsuō pínfánfrequent contractions
入院手续rùyuàn shǒuxùhospital admission procedures
头胎tóu tāifirstborn
羊水破了yángshuǐ pòleamniotic fluid broke
晕血yùnxiěfainting blood
剖腹产pōufùchǎncaesarean section

Chinese spy balloon

Already forgot about “the Chinese spy balloon”? I thought the incident remarkable enough to include it in my notes. Lots of unusual vocabulary to cover here. Blinken’s visit to China was postponed after Chinese balloons entered U.S. airspace.

Level indication: HSK 5 / 6

侵犯美国领空Qīnfàn měiguó lǐngkōngsurveillance balloon
监视气球jiānshì qìqiúcivil meteorological research airship
民用气象研究飞艇mínyòng qìxiàng yánjiū fēitǐngcivil meteorological research airship
喷气式战斗机pēnqì shì zhàndòujījet fighter
击落jíluòto shoot down
如出一辙rúchūyīzhéexactly the same

Are you a perfectionist? Intermediate Chinese Podcast – Taiwanese Mandarin Podcast

What is your relation to perfectionism? Abby discusses 7 signs of perfectionism and gives her personal take on the topic. As for the seven signs: 1. Being Highly Critical; 2. Having Unrealistic Standards; 3. Focusing Only on Results; 4. Feeling Depressed by Unmet Goals; 5. Fear of Failure; 6. Procrastination; 7. Low Self-Esteem. What I like about Abby’s podcast: she speaks not too slow, not too fast, covers topics she’s genuinely interested in and is authentic.

Level indication: HSK 4/ 5

完美主义wánměi zhǔyìperfectionism
完美主义的人wánměi zhǔyì de rénperfectionist
完美主义者wánměi zhǔyì zhěperfectionist
对自己的要求很高duì zìjǐ de yāoqiú hěn gāohave high demands on themselves
完美的状态wánměi de zhuàngtàiperfect condition
对自己很严厉duì zìjǐ hěn yánlìbe tough on yourself

Interview with Desmond Shum, the author of “Red roulette”《红色轮盘》

I’m currently reading the book “Red Roulette: An Insider’s Story of Wealth, Power, Corruption, and Vengeance in Today’s China” by Desmond Shum. One of the most interesting books on contemporary Chinese politics I’ve read so far, because the author isn’t an academic or western “China expert”, but someone who as an entrepreneur had access to some of the most powerful people in Beijing. On YouTube you can find several English and Chinese interviews with Desmond Shum who was born in Shanghai and (partly) raised in Hongkong. The interviews in his native language are the most informative. In this conversation with 自由亚洲电台, he shares some of his insights and experiences.

Desmond Shum, who was born in Shanghai and raised in Hong Kong, developed the largest air cargo logistics facility in China, the Beijing Airport Cargo Terminal. He also led the development of the Bulgari Hotel in Beijing. In addition, starting in the early 2000s, he was an early pioneer of philanthropy in China, gifting extensively both domestically and internationally. Desmond holds a bachelor’s degree in finance and accounting from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in the United States, and is a graduate of the joint-EMBA program of Northwestern University (US) and the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology. 

About the author (Source: Amazon)

Level indication: HSK 5 / 6 (with Chinese subtitles)

红色轮盘hóngsè lún pánred roulette
太太帮tàitài bāng“mrs. gang” (the network of powerful cadres’ wifes)
秘书帮mìshū bāng“secretary gang”
权贵quánguìrich and powerful
红色血脉hóngsè xuèmàired blood (descendants of the first communists who took part in the long march and founded China)
白手套bái shǒutàowhite glove (person who manages business deals in service of the Chinese party elite)
执行项目zhíxíng xiàngmùto execute a project
异于常人的记忆力yì yú chángrén de jìyìlìextraordinary memory
随心所欲suíxīnsuǒyùto do whatever you want

That’s it for February and March. As always thanks for dropping by and hope to see you back next month with more Chinese content!

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