Subscribe to our newsletter
Slow Chinese 每周漫闻 is a weekly newsletter to help you learn, use, and understand modern Chinese language the way people speak it today.
Business Slang

Different ways to say: I’m not buying this – 不吃这一套 (bù chī zhè yī tào)1 min read

29 March 2021 < 1 min read

author:

Different ways to say: I’m not buying this – 不吃这一套 (bù chī zhè yī tào)1 min read

Reading Time: < 1 minute

Patriotic products quoting Yang Jiechi and Wang Yi from the US-Alaska summit last week are now being sold by plucky entrepreneurs online on Taobao

One of the more popular lines is:

中国人不吃这一套 (Zhōngguó rén bù chī zhè yī tào) – the Chinese people don’t buy this

There’s been some debate in China on the best way to translate this in English. In the meeting, the interpreter Zhang Jing translated as:

This is not the way to deal with Chinese people

The general view is that this was too diplomatic and soft.

The real meaning in English should show more indignation. Such as:

  • We Chinese don’t buy it
  • We won’t swallow this
  • We’re not taking this shit

There’s another good one which is used in the same way, but slightly less punchy. It was a common response to Li Dan’s vanilla apology on Weibo (see story above):

  • 不买账 (Bú mǎizhàng) – ‘not paying the bill’ – not buying it, don’t accept it

    即便他发表了这样的道歉信,网友依然不买账 – Even through he issued an apology letter, China’s netizens are still not buying it

    我不买你的帐 – I’m not buying [what you are saying]

This is not to be confused with:

  • 不卖帐 (Bù mài zhàng) – ‘not selling the account’ – to not give face, not do what’s being asked by somebody (this is less common but still can come up so important to know the difference)

    我不卖你的帐 – I’m not doing that

And following on with the ‘balancing the books’ theme, there also this one which is useful:

  • 算账 (Suàn zhàng) – to balance the books; to get even with somebody

    习近平为中国高官贪腐算账 – President Xi is getting even with high level corrupt officials

One Comment
  1. Juliet

    Interesting and useful article! I just had a question - the article describes: "不买账 (Bú mǎizhàng) , and 不卖帐 (Bù mài zhàng)" I feel like the "bu" piniyin transcriptions are switched around. Double checking the voice reader in Bing Translator, it shows what I'd expect: "bù mǎi zhàng bú mài zhàng." But Google Translate shows it the way it is above. ???

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *