TIME TO REVIEW SOME CLICHÉS, GUYS: when Zhou Enlai told Nixon it was "too early to say" what the impact of the French Revolution would be, during the latter's trio to China in 1972, he wasn't referring to the storming of the Bastille but rather to the 1968 student riots in Paris, according to Nixon's interpreter at the time:
At a seminar in Washington to mark the publication of Henry Kissinger’s book, On China, Chas Freeman, a retired foreign service officer, sought to correct the long-standing error.Plus,
“I distinctly remember the exchange. There was a misunderstanding that was too delicious to invite correction,” said Mr Freeman.
He said Zhou had been confused when asked about the French Revolution and the Paris Commune. “But these were exactly the kinds of terms used by the students to describe what they were up to in 1968 and that is how Zhou understood them.”
It is not the first time a misinterpretation of a Chinese leader’s saying has mistakenly entered mainstream parlance.
Deng Xiaoping, who launched the country’s market reforms, is credited with saying, “To get rich is glorious”, although there is no record that he said it.
The oft-quoted Chinese curse, “May you live in interesting times”, does not exist in China itself, scholars say.