Selva Freigedo – Port Phillips Insider Extra (Australia) –
There is a common misconception — popularised by ex-US president John F Kennedy — that ‘crisis’ in Chinese means both danger and opportunity. Well, that is not exactly right.
You see, in Chinese, the word crisis (wēijī) is written with two syllables: wēi (危) and jī (機/机).
University of Pennsylvania Professor of Chinese Language and Literature Victor H Mair says it is true that the word wēijī means ‘crisis’ and that the wēi syllable in wēijī gives the notion of ‘danger.’ Yet the jī syllable of wēijī does not signify ‘opportunity’.
As he explained in Pinyin, a blog:
‘The jī of wēijī, in fact, means something like “incipient moment; crucial point (when something begins or changes).” Thus, a wēijī is indeed a genuine crisis, a dangerous moment, a time when things start to go awry. A wēijī indicates a perilous situation when one should be especially wary.
‘jī added to huì (“occasion”) creates the Mandarin word for “opportunity” (jīhuì), but by itself jī does not mean “opportunity.
‘If one wants to find a word containing the element jī that means “opportunity” (i.e., a favorable juncture of circumstances, or a good chance for advancement), one needs to look elsewhere than wēijī, which means precisely “crisis” (viz., a dangerous, critical moment). One might choose, for instance, zhuǎnjī (“turn” + “incipient moment” = “favorable turn; turn for the better”), liángjī (“excellent” + “incipient moment” = “opportunity” [!!]), or hǎo shíjī (“good” + “time” + “incipient moment” = “favorable opportunity”).’
Looking back at 2016, it was a year of crisis. A transitional year. ‘A crucial point’, when something is beginning or changing, and when we should be ‘especially wary’.
A year where the old, as we know it, has not yet left, and the new has not yet arrived.
The truth is that the old mechanisms that gave us clues to understanding the world around us don’t have the same strength as before. They have changed.
The 2008 correction to our excesses came and went, with no correction. We have never before been in so much debt as today, due to long-term low interest rates. Markets are at record highs, and climbing.
The results of the biggest decisions taken last year — Brexit and the election of Trump to the US presidency — are yet to come in 2017.
And I think that these two events will mark three trends developing right now before our eyes.
Here’s looking at you, China
Trump is planning big changes this year.
He wants to build a wall with the US’ neighbours, renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) with Canada and Mexico, and scrap the Trans-Pacific Trade Agreement (TPP) between Asian and Latin American countries.
2017 promises to be a living nightmare for Mexico, wall or no wall.