You have been asked to interpret for a visiting economist from China. Her speech topic is entitled “The World is Changing”, and she will cover how both China and the world has undergone significant changes both socially and economically.
Listen to speech
Transcript and reference translation
The world changes every day, and constantly adjusts itself. The word “change” has become the buzz word of modernity. The society in which we live in is transitioning from an industrialised society to a service and information-oriented one.
Similarly, China is going through some changes, and adjusting itself. The country is going through a reform process in which it is freeing itself from its rigidly planned economic system, and establishing and perfecting a socialist market economy.
China’s society is changing as it reforms itself, and reforming as it changes. These changes have resolved many issues, as well as created some new ones. Among these, there are four which have the largest impact on Chinese people at present, and possibly their future too.
1. The ageing population. The number of old and very old people in China is on the increase, and the proportion of children, especially in cities, is decreasing. This will affect China’s economic development and threaten its healthcare and retirement systems, as well as the development of its other welfare systems.
2. Employment problems. Continuous industrial restructuring inhibits employment. As the number of service-oriented industries increases, so does the need for a highly skilled labour force. Competition both at home and abroad grows more fierce every day and more and more people from rural areas have migrated to big cities. All of these issues pose a grave threat to not only present and future employment prospects but also to improving China’s overall living standards.
3. Problems for families and children. China’s divorce rate is on the rise. A whole generation of young people are growing up in single-child families. People are frequently changing their place of work and residence. These all pose a threat to the well-being of families and children.
4. The challenge to traditional social values. The worshipping of money in Chinese society, growing self-centeredness and indifference to the public good are eroding many of China’s traditional virtues.
These issues demand our attention as they affect the quality of life of all. They stem from changes in socio-economic conditions and are the concern of both China and the world as a whole. They came about in the wake of urbanisation and modernisation. There is no way we can evade these issues. The only way forward is to learn how to address them.
That being said, an ever-changing society not only poses issues but also provides opportunities. Change can be viewed as presenting us with both challenges and crises, and challenges can be seen as opportunities to build a better society.
The Chinese word for “crisis” is made up of two characters – “wei” and “ji” [meaning “danger” and “opportunity” respectively]. Thus, crisis entails opportunity. Changes in China’s society poses many issues, but also presents us with many opportunities. In today’s global economy which is becoming more and more integrated every day, let us meet the challenges ahead, embrace opportunities, accept responsibility and work together to build a better tomorrow.
The original text has been taken from a popular interpreting resource available online. The English translation is all my own. — Carl