President Xi Jinping and European Union (EU) leaders held a virtual summit earlier this month to discuss trade. The EU has long complained of China’s trade practices. During the summit with Xi Jinping, EU leaders demanded fairer trade. The President of the European Council, Charles Michel, used an interesting expression when he spoke with reporters after the virtual summit. He said: “Europe needs to be a player, not a playing field”. He said Europe wanted “reciprocity and a level playing field”. The word “virtual” used this way means almost but not exactly a particular thing. Most countries have shut borders because of the coronavirus. This means people use apps like Zoom for meetings. Such meetings are “virtual” meetings. They are almost but not real face-to-face meetings.
The word “summit” means the highest point of a mountain, but used this way it means a meeting between the top leaders of countries. When President Xi and US President Donald Trump hold a formal meeting, it is called a “summit”. Charles Michel’s expression is interesting because he used the word “play” in a clever way. When he told reporters after his summit with Xi Jinping that “Europe needs to be a player”, he meant Europe must have greater access to China’s markets. The word “player” used this way means to be a participant. Charles Michel meant Europe wants to participate more in China’s markets.
When he said Europe is “not a playing field”, he meant Europe doesn’t want China to take advantage of Europe’s open markets while China keeps its markets partly closed to Europe. The expression “playing field” used this way regarding China means Chinese companies can unfairly take advantage of Europe’s open markets. The word “reciprocity” means both sides giving each other equal treatment. The expression “level playing field” means a situation in which everyone has the same chance of succeeding. When Europe says it wants a “level playing field” it means it wants China to open its markets in the same way Europe has opened its markets to China.
歐洲理事會主席夏爾‧米歇爾在視像高峰會（virtual summit）後接受記者採訪時，用了一個有趣的習語。他說：“Europe needs to be a player, not a playing field”；又說歐洲要的是“reciprocity and a level playing field”。Virtual在上文的意思是虛擬的、幾乎但又不完全是某事。大部份國家因為新冠肺炎疫情的緣故，已關閉邊境，這意味着人們要用像Zoom的應用程式去舉行會議；這些虛擬的視像會議就是“virtual” meetings，它們跟面對面的會議差不多，但又不是真的見面。
Summit是指山頂、巔峰，但在這裏則是指各國最高領袖的峰會。當習近平主席與美國總統唐納德‧特朗普要召開正式的會議，那就叫做“summit”。夏爾‧米歇爾的習語很有趣，因為他聰明地用了“play”一字。他在與習近平的峰會（summit）後跟記者說“Europe needs to be a player”，他的意思是，歐洲必須有更多進入中國市場的機會；“player”在這裏是指參與者。夏爾‧米歇爾的意思是，歐洲想在中國市場上參與更多。
當他說Europe is “not a playing field”，他的意思是歐洲並不想中國部份市場不對歐洲開放的同時，中國卻又從歐洲的開放市場中取利。習語“playing field”在這裏指涉着中國，說的是中國企業得以不公平地佔盡歐洲開放市場的便宜。
Reciprocity即互惠，相互的待遇是平等的。習語“level playing field”即公平競爭的環境，人人都有相同的成功機會。當歐洲說它想要一個“level playing field”，意即它要中國開放市場，一如歐洲向中國開放市場。
Michael Chugani 褚簡寧