Last week, two well-known TV anchors, Trish Regan from the US and Liu Xin from China, went head-to-head (direct confrontation between two people) in a live TV debate about the US-China trade war. Regan is a business news host for the Fox channel and Liu is an anchor for CGTN, an English language channel owned by the Chinese government. Liu had accused Regan of biased coverage of the trade war. Regan challenged Liu to a TV debate. Everyone expected fireworks during the debate. The word “fireworks” used this way doesn’t mean the fireworks above Victoria Harbor during big celebrations. It means a lot of angry shouting.
The debate was shown live on Fox but CGTN did not broadcast it live. CGTN claimed it did not have the right to broadcast a Fox show but most people knew that was stretching the truth. If you stretch the truth, it means you are not being completely honest. If CGTN wanted audiences in China to watch the debate, I think Fox would have given it permission to broadcast it. But it is well-known that China censors a lot of international news. It only allows news that it wants the people to know about. This means people in China are in the dark about many things happening in the outside world. If you are in the dark about something, it means you are unaware or not informed about things that are happening.
But the much-awaited debate turned out to be a damp squib. Instead of fireworks, Regan and Liu talked politely to each other. It was more like Regan interviewing Liu than a debate. A damp squib is an event that is not as exciting as people had thought it would be. The word “damp” means slightly wet. A squib is a small firecracker. If a firecracker gets wet, nothing happens when you light it. That’s why the expression “damp squib” means an event that is far less exciting than people had thought. Many people mistakenly say damp squid instead. A squid is a type of sea creature that is a popular seafood.
辯論在霍士直播，CGTN卻沒有即時轉播。CGTN聲稱它沒有權利轉播一個霍士的節目，但大部份人都知道，那只不過是stretching the truth。若你stretch the truth，即是說你言過其實，並未坦白說出全部的事實。若CGTN想中國內地的觀眾觀看辯論，我相信霍士會授權它轉播。然而眾所周知，中國當局會審查許多國際新聞，它只會容許它想人民知道的新聞發放。這意味着在中國的人都是「在黑暗中」（in the dark），對外邊發生的許多事都一無所知。若你是in the dark about something，意即你被蒙在鼓裏，或對正在發生的事毫不知情。
可是，這場萬眾期待的辯論，結果卻令人空歡喜一場（damp squib）。里根與劉反倒是以禮相待，而非充滿火藥味（fireworks），比起辯論它更像是里根在訪問劉。A damp squib是指一場活動並不如人們預期的精采。Damp是指有點潮濕的；a squib就是小爆竹。若一個爆竹濕了水，那你點燃的時候就點不着了；因此，習語 damp squib是指令人掃興、空歡喜的事。許多人卻錯把它說成damp squid,a squid是指魷魚，也是熱門的海產食物。
Michael Chugani 褚簡寧