t a recent China-Africa friendship event in Beijing, a large video screen behind the stage displayed four buzzwords, apparently meant to illustrate the relationship between the two sides: Innovation, Efficiency, Transcendence, and… Exploitation.
That last one was a rather awkward translation of the Chinese word 开拓 (kaituo), which could instead be translated as “development.”
Hosted on January 9th at a Beijing hotel by the China-Africa Friendly Economic and Trade Development Foundation, the “China-Africa Friendly Night 2019” was reportedly attended by representatives from dozens of Chinese enterprises along with nearly 100 envoys from 60 different countries including ambassadors from Angola, Benin, and Sao Tome and Principe who are seen on stage in front of the word “Exploitation.”
Despite this, the faux pas didn’t really draw any notice until Caixin reporter Effy Zhang posted a screenshot from the event on Twitter on Saturday:
Gosh. This’s so wrong.
With dozens of African envoys presented, a mindless mistake was made. At least ask someone really knows English to interpret. pic.twitter.com/VU6nmeERBZ
— Effy Zhang 張夢圓 (@EffyZhangmy) February 2, 2019
Underneath, most Twitter users charge that this was less of a careless translation error and more of a revealing Freudian slip. China has been accused of embarking upon a new era of colonialism in Africa, exploiting the continent’s natural resources and entrapping governments in debt with expensive infrastructure projects.