For the past year, Yuan Fu, a native of Shandong Province, has graciously volunteered his time to help translate a variety of posts on Speaking of China into Chinese. I thought, wouldn’t it be interesting to get to know the guy behind the translations? (I admit, even I was interested in knowing more about this fellow who magically appeared in my e-mail inbox one day, offering his talents to Speaking of China.)
So I put together this interview with Yuan Fu. As it turns out, Yuan is one fascinating and incredibly funny guy — his answers had me laughing out loud at times. I’ve provided his original Chinese responses below (he answered my English interview in Chinese — for those of you who can read Chinese, his answers are best in his native language); otherwise, you’ll have to forgive me for the simple translation of his answers into English. Trust me, if you can read the Chinese, you’ll understand just why he’s such a whiz with words.
You’ve volunteered your talents to help speakingofchina.com translate many wonderful posts into Chinese. Tell us about how you came to find this website and what motivated you to translate content for it.
I don’t consider myself a “volunteer”; I’m just one shrewd “businessman!” That’s because Speaking of China gave me more than I could possibly offer. So if there’s someone I should thank, it’s Jocelyn and her website!
I’ve always loved words and have been weaker with numbers. From elementary school I’ve been far more passionate about writing, even though only I think the articles read well. In contrast, I could barely pass mathematics by memorizing formulas. I really like feeling as if I’m “flirting” with readers through words. When you know that simply adjusting a word or phrase can completely change the reader’s experience, that feeling is really amazing. Ironically, after I graduated I staggered into profession of auditing, a world of figures 24 hours a day. So working for Speaking of China has become really important for me. After a day of getting “bombed” by worksheets, Speaking of China gives me a thread of breathing space and for the first time, provides me with readers. This is an essential change. I really cherish this opportunity.
Of course I also await the day when I will finally meet a girl who shares my ambitions and outlook on life. Among the girls who visit Speaking of China, if they’re not interested in AMWF then they’re interested in language. That’s perfect for me. In light of the fact that I often feel overwhelmed whenever I’m together with a girl I’m attracted to, I’ve learned to be careful, so I hide behind the computer. If I give it my all, who’s to say one day the perfect girl will actively find me?
Finally and most important, I’ve noticed that a lot of young Chinese guys have this kind of demand, but they don’t have a platform where they can be heard. I hope Speaking of China’s Chinese version will change that a little – that they’re not freaks in the world of love and marriage. Many of us have the same thought. If you love foreign girls then you should confidently go after them! Speaking of China can provide you with suggestions in this respect and even real-life love stories. I look forward to the future when we can receive many more “Double Happiness” stories from young Chinese men!
You actually work as an audit trainee for an accounting firm. How do you make time to translate posts?
For that we should thank the horrible traffic situation, the crowded streets and buses – that’s where I’ve finished most of the translations! Just like Ford and his Model T, I “assemble” each article in my mind starting with the easiest and most fascinating parts and then the more challenging parts of the articles. This whole process – starting from nothing to a finished product – is always exciting to me.
“Accuracy, expressiveness, elegance” is the highest standard for translation but I cannot reach it. Instead I strive to preserve a certain amount of character in the articles, (kind of like when, after suffering for a long week at work and finally making it to Friday, you can actually relax). I’m very clear about my own abilities, you don’t even need to mention the enormous gap between me and translation professionals. In front of those readers who are very serious about language, I appear like “Cub Scout” with this hobby of translation. However, with time I will improve.
You studied abroad at Cardiff University in Wales. Could you share with us your most interesting experience or experiences there?
During our graduation trip we went to Loch Ness in Scotland. That sturdy captain of the ship spooked everyone into keeping their eyes glued to the sonar screen, because the Loch Ness Monster could at any time overturn the boat. In reality this was completely unnecessary, as the Loch Ness Monster was in all of the gift shops – just 15 pounds and you can bring one home. If you buy more there’s a discount. And the “Made in China” tag left on each of them would make you realize they were Asian.
Similarly this street of luxury goods in Oxford was completely occupied by Asian merchants. Seeing this in the small village of Oxford made me suddenly feel like I was back in Beijing’s Wangfujing shopping area; I even wondered if there was someone selling fried flatbread. As it turns out the place only had French hot dogs for sale, and the taste only proved that the technique of these young Frenchmen couldn’t compare to those Henan women selling fried flatbread (for one yuan more they’ll add an egg to it).
Besides the sights and scenery, England’s good regulations gave me a deep impression. For example, how motorized vehicles must yield to pedestrians or how medical services could really be free (despite the fact they weren’t always the most efficient). Of course everything the English people now enjoy comes from the hard efforts of the previous generations, benefiting from how they became industrialized in the 19th century. They’ve waded through war, endured a recession and the inhumanity of Imperial England. So we have nothing to envy. Maybe the hard work of this generation of Chinese will give their children a better country, don’t you think? Those of us born in the 1990s should be thankful for the many things we have received from previous generations.
Yes, until this day I still regret that I haven’t dated anyone. This makes me feel as if I spent all of that university tuition for nothing. Ha ha!
毕业旅行我们去了苏格兰的尼斯湖，白白胖胖的船东吓唬大家要紧盯声呐屏幕，因为湖怪随时可能掀翻小艇。事实证明这完全多此一举，因为尼斯湖小怪兽充斥在大大小小的纪念品店中，15镑就能搂一个回家，要是多买还能打折。留意一下铭牌你就会发现甚至它们也是有亚洲血统的—Made in China.
Why did you choose to return to China after your studies?
I think it’s because my visa was going to expire, ha ha! What’s interesting is that in England when I tried really hard to find work there, more than once I heard locals complain “they’ve already had enough” of this country that in my mind appears very well developed. There was even one Londoner who sent me a text message when I was boarding my plane: he is returning to Shanghai, and he persuaded me to quickly leave this “sinking” country. The very concerned tone of his message made me feel as if I had just missed Heathrow’s last “Noah’s Ark”. I think he’s not wrong in what he said. Immigration moves from a place you are tired of to a place someone else is tired of. Still that Londoner doesn’t realize that Shanghai is the eponymous “sinking” place because the ground there cannot handle the massive weight of Pudong’s skyscrapers. Fortunately this process can be controlled!
我想是因为我的签证过期了 哈哈。有趣的是当我挖空心思想在英国谋一份差事时，不止一个当地人抱怨 “他们已经受够了”这个在我看来各方面都很成熟的国家。 甚至一位伦敦老哥登机前还短信我：他要回上海了，奉劝我也麻利儿离开那个下沉的（sinking）国家，那番语重心长的口气就像我刚刚错过了希斯罗（Heathrow）的最后一班诺亚方舟。看来那句话果真没错–移民就是从你呆烦了的地方跑到别人呆烦的地方去。不过那位老哥有所不知，上海才是名副其实的“下沉”，因为那里的地质无法承受浦东天量的摩天大楼，还好这一进程是可控的!
You’re currently single, but you’ve told me you hope someday you want to marry a Western woman. Why?
First off, because you’re so beautiful. Second…aiya, I think the first reason is enough for me, ha ha! Foreign women have provided many thoughts and ideas that aren’t in my culture and circle of friends – this is something that matters to me. I started to realize that there are some things you shouldn’t care too much about while there are other things worth pursuing. In our lives we shouldn’t be too hard on ourselves most of the time – we really can just not worry too much about it and move at a slower pace. Regarding “doing what you’re passionate about” or because you love a specific field so while studying you focus on that area, now it seems this is no big problem. Simply put, I discovered some values that resonated with me. I admit, my initial reason for liking foreign girls is because of their pretty looks, but now I’ve discovered many more reasons that go beyond your appearance.
One of my deepest impressions is the alcohol tolerance of foreign women. Once we went out to drink beer with some very petite German girls. After their “warmup” stage was over, I was already very inebriated. Sorry everyone, I think I just made Shandong men lose face.
印象深刻的还有她们的酒量，当时我们和几位 “小号的”德国姑娘喝酒，当她们的 “热身”环节结束时，我已经是天旋地转了。对不起大家，我给咱山东爷们丢了脸。
Describe the woman of your dreams!
Actually I’m very interested in Jocelyn, but I don’t know if John will mind. At least China prohibits guns, ha ha!
Just kidding! I mean to say, I hope I can find a foreign girl who is as interested in Chinese culture as Jocelyn is. And if she also loves Mandarin and even wants to become a translator or interpreter, that would be perfect. I can definitely be a big help to her! You see, the fascinating thing about China is that, first it is quite ancient and yet it has changed very quickly. So no matter whether you are a historian with your head buried in the old pages of our history or you want to do something modern or different, you can basically find your place here in China. So to all of the girls living in the first world, if you come over to our third world for a turn you’ll find it’s very fascinating.
Or maybe we ought to talk about what kind of person I am – anyone who loves my kind of personality is also that kind of girl I’m looking for.
I have some really cool friends in my life. These people don’t just live well, they also can bring a lot of happiness to the people around them. What’s even more appealing is that they have this kind of ability to grasp the future. Without exception, they all love to read or at least do according to that saying, “There’s nothing exceptional under the sun,” books provide them with wisdom to understand the world. I also hope for this kind of wisdom. As such reading has gradually become the biggest thing I do outside of work. Of course, this kind of life can be pretty “quiet.” Similarly, my two other biggest pastimes — traveling and making military models – are also “soundless”. One young English guy once told me with a very concerned face, “Yuan, if you want to know the meaning of the word ‘Nerd’, you’d best look in the mirror.” Ha ha, in fact I wasn’t concerned at all about my lifestyle. Ladies, it’s good to find yourself a quiet partner. In this way you’ll always have someone to listen to your stories. Plus, perhaps these guys who are always reticent are in fact the most passionate guys!
Due to the limits of writing, forgive me for not being able to provide more details. But I strongly suggest any interested ladies to come forward and have a try. Based on my understanding of Yuan, I bet I would not disappoint the vast majority of readers. 🙂
There are a lot of Chinese men out there who, like you, have the dream of finding a yangxifu – but not every guy will be successful. What do you think are the biggest barriers for Chinese men to meet and date Western women in China?
First, Chinese men lack opportunities to regularly interact with foreign women. Objectively speaking, the vast majority of Asian men cannot compare to the tall stature of Western men. This is not worth complaining about nor is it racist, this is Darwin’s evolution. Because of this, I ask Chinese men to call upon their “soft power” in more superior areas, such as being more attentive to women or smarter. In this way we can become ideal to girls. Unfortunately this kind of “soft power” is not as easy to see as the huge biceps on a guy’s arm. You have to work long and hard together in order to observe it. And this kind of opportunity to “work long and hard together” is without a doubt in unusually short supply. So it’s very possible that young men here are already excellent enough, but that women just haven’t noticed it yet.
Secondly, you should also blame the spiritual impotence of Chinese men, their sense of inferiority. Whenever I tell someone that I’m interested in finding a foreign girl, the response I receive is, “Gosh, you need lots of money to do that!” As if I don’t have this then I cannot win the battle for a spouse! Another example is when a guy is standing before someone from a developed country, we can be overcautious. Yet when we’re standing before friends from less developed countries than China, we can behave all high and mighty.
I hear from Western women out there who are looking to find a good man in China. What advice would you have for them?
To all of those ladies searching for a “good man”, I want to say your search can stop right here. Just choose Yuan. Don’t hesitate. He will become the best decision you ever made for the longest part of your future. Ha ha!
If you’re speaking of the biggest strengths of Chinese men, that’s probably that we’re hardworking. I remember there was an economist at MIT who, when asked why he was so full of confidence about China, this gentleman shrugged and leisurely replied, “Forget about all of those economic models because the Chinese are very hardworking.” Look, whenever people attempt to answer these truly important questions, we often must return to the most essential things. So if I was a woman, I would stay away from those good for nothing laggards or the men who are constantly changing their jobs – the kind of guys who think they can use women because they’re cool and handsome. Just like Lucy Kellaway of the Financial Times once said, “Find a responsible partner, even though that doesn’t sound sexy or romantic.” Then I would choose someone with similar values. For example, my father values frugality; whenever he goes shopping he always picks the cheapest items. But my mother values quality and she absolutely would not compromise her values because of price. You can imagine that this couple of such mismatched people will not live very peacefully together. However, thank the heavens, as long as it’s not time to go to the supermarket, things are fine. But if the two of them cannot agree on what kind of beef to buy, then the two of them are not so well suited for each other.
However, perhaps the silliest thing in this world is to listen to me, some 24-year-old guy who has yet to find love himself to give some advice to such experienced young women on how to find true love. So I’d best keep my mouth shut!
Finally, you currently reside in Ji’nan, China. Let’s say I’m coming up to visit your hometown. What you suggest I see and do in your city?
Oh, Ji’nan is a very embarrassing provincial capital city. Not only does it have no international recognition, here in China you almost never hear anything from Ji’nan. In fact the most recent thing I’ve heard about Ji’nan is that some guy put his girlfriend on his neck and received some praise for being a “Good Chinese Boyfriend.” Still, just because this place isn’t famous doesn’t mean it’s not fun. You should definitely see the usual sights in the city. Qianfo Mountain, Baotu Springs and Daming Lake are the three best in Ji’nan. Of course if you loathe manmade pools, Ji’nan – which is also known as “little Jiangnan” – also has a number of good places to go swimming, though they’re often hidden in the most inconspicuous places in the city and usually only locals can find them. Of course you totally shouldn’t be worried about those lewd stares, as can assure you there are far too many to count.
If you’re willing to walk a little, then we can also have a look at “the mountain”, “the water”, “the sage” – that’s Taishan, the Yellow River, and Confucius. Yes, in Shandong Province you can find all of these things that are deeply meaningful in Chinese culture. No matter what, don’t worry. Any trip with Yuan will be a happy one.
By the way, now that you mention travel, next year I’m planning on visiting China’s West (Xinjiang and Tibet). Is there anyone willing to come with me? (This is limited to single girls only! 😉 )
Thank you so much to Yuan Fu for this interview and for all of his generous assistance to Speaking of China! I’ll be posting more of his translations in the next few weeks, so look out!
For any comments or suggestions regarding translations, you’re welcome to contact Yuan at speakingofchina(at)hotmail(dot)com.