Herewith the first attemp at translating April's article on the difficulties of having open and honest discussions. Please feel free to comment, add suggestions or to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org with alternative translations.
I always believed that exchanging ideas openly and frankly without going as far as arousing a quarrel is a very difficult thing.
From the individual to the state it’s very difficult.
From my personal experience to the news on TV, regularly confirm this opinion of mine.
On Wednesday evening six colleagues and me sat down to discuss the preparations for next week’s discussion class.
We took out the materials that each one had to prepare in order to discuss it,
afterwards we asked each other whether there were any comprehension mistakes
or whether what we had prepared was not too much, etc.
On the whole it seemed as though we were all too polite.
We always first bring up a tiny suggestion and then consciously look and listen whether the person to whom we suggest something is feeling awkward or not, only then do we proceed to cautiously give another suggestion.
There were two people who then just wouldn’t say a word.
We only wanted to do a good job without embarrassing anyone.
As a result, this formal discussion does not allow for adequate progression.
On the other hand the ensuing informal discussion is far better.
非正式的讨论是我们有三个人一起坐车，坐在前后座位上，一直扭着脖子说了一路，收获很大。The informal discussion takes place when we three people travel in the car (bus) together, sitting back to back and straining our necks and talking the whole way, then a lot comes out.
It is as if the darkness in the car’s cabin is our protective umbrella, if you cannot see another person’s facial expressions, then you say more without doing any harm.
It could also be due to the fact that there are only half as many people.
Discussions between nations are then even more difficult.
It is a real problem using diplomatic means to solve actual problems.
Just look at the recent quarrel between China and Japan over Diaoyu Island to know that Japan is still detaining a civilian to use as a bargaining chip.
The governments of both countries want to keep face,
can’t act so far from the norm and risk international condemnation,
want to maintain basic cultural and trade relations,
want to safeguard their own peoples interests,
so many responsibilities are mixed into the equation that they want to reach, that it is almost impossible.
Some Sino-Japanese popular activities have already been affected; I do not know whose loss is the greatest.
To openly exchange ideas definitely does not mean to insult or to criticize
But a large number of dialogues one sees on TV can end up like this.
If it is not the case, then no one says anything bad and each one chooses to only say what sounds good.
Most of the world summit meetings belong to this last kind,
at the end of the conference they release some so-called agreements that have been reached.
然后就等着下一次的峰会。And then afterwards they just wait for the following summit meeting.
I think this recent United Nations Thousand year development plan is simply hilarious.
为什么要千年，Why is it a thousand years
为什么不是万年发展，why not ten thousand years development
或者百年大计? or a hundred year plan?
谁能衡量发展的进度? Who can measure the pace of development?
是不是前面的九百九十年可以什么都不动，Is it possible that nothing happens for the first 990 years
等最后的十年来一个突飞猛进? and that a spurt of progress is made in the last ten years?
或者过去二十年以后大家都忘了还有什么千年的计划? Or when 20 years have passed everyone has forgotten that there was a thousand year plan?
不过千年发展听起来好听，Nevertheless, a thousand year development plan sounds good.
以后一千年联合国都不发愁没东西讲了。For the following thousand years the United Nations does not need to worry not to have anything to talk about.
但是没有一个国家说出不同的意见。But there was not a single nation who expressed an opinion of disagreement.
光这点，就很可疑了。Just this point is already very suspicious.
所以，坦诚地交换意见，人类不知道什么时候才能学会。So, we do not know when mankind will learn how to share opinions frankly and honestly.