5

I have read a passage from wikileak:

AIT/T has had regular contact with Tsai Ing-wen on economic, political and cross-Strait issues (ref B). She is a savvy insider on formulating and implementing policy for the ruling party. She was the DPP campaign manager for the December 3 elections in Taipei County. As Vice Premier, we expect her to be consistently well informed on issues and very clear about the policy positions that the Chen Administration will stake out. She is the kind of lawyer most skilled at finding reasons not to do things. As the person who started Taiwan's push for a Free Trade Agreement with the U.S., we can expect that she will continue this effort and push even harder in light of the July 2007 expiration of trade negotiating authority.

(source: https://wikileaks.org/plusd/cables/06TAIPEI221_a.html )

And I don't quite understand the meaning of that sentence: She is the kind of lawyer most skilled at finding reasons not to do things.

Below are some possibilities:

(A) She is lazy and has a lot of excuses running away from things that she should do.

(B) She is good at distinguishing things she should or shouldn't do.

(C) When there's something she thinks is unnecesary, she is very good at telling others reasons not to do that.

(D) It probably is a typo. Maybe the author is trying to say She is the kind of lawyer most skilled at finding reasons to do things.

  • Either a typo or it's some sort of Chinese idiom, I would guess. – Hot Licks Dec 29 '15 at 15:27
  • @HotLicks I guess the article is not written by a Chinese, nor is it translated from a Chinese passage. – AnnieFromTaiwan Dec 29 '15 at 15:31
  • 3
    It's vaguely possible that it's trying to say that she's better at legally blocking things than as legally getting things done. – Hot Licks Dec 29 '15 at 15:33
  • @HotLicks that was my first thought. However, I wouldn't say she's necessarily better at blocking things than at getting them done. Just good at it. – Yay Dec 29 '15 at 15:38
  • According to the source tone, I would vote for D) -typo-. But, it's just an opinion without further substantiation. – Graffito Dec 29 '15 at 20:44
3

Elsewhere in the WikiLeaks cable that you link to, the author of the cable includes this paragraph about Tsai Ing-wen:

Tsai was one of the few cabinet members who won the respect of members of the Legislative Yuan (LY) during her tenure as MAC Chair. She was tough but expressed herself clearly and persuasively in defending the administration's cross-Strait policies. This approach extended to her boss, President Chen, as well. In a press interview one month after his inauguration in 2000, President Chen said that the new government might accept the 1992 consensus of "one China with different interpretations." The next day, the newly appointed Tsai denied the possibility commenting that there had never been any consensus. Despite this incident, Chen kept her on as MAC Chair until the end of his first term. She is likely to be a strong supporter and effective advocate of the President's policies constraining cross-Strait relations and other issues.

The incident described amounts to a signal by the newly inaugurated President Chen of willingness to compromise on Taiwan's status vis-a-vis mainland China, followed by extreme resistance to that overture (grounded in a rejection of the supposed "consensus" underlying the overture) by Ms. Tsai.

If we think of opposition to any accommodation of the mainland Chinese position on "two Chinas" versus "one China with different interpretations" versus whatever other schemes are on the table as evidence of a commitment to "constraining cross-Strait relations," it follows that Ms. Tsai is a strong voice against compromise in negotiations with mainland China.

It is in a spirit consistent with this appraisal of Ms. Tsai that the sentence

She is the kind of lawyer most skilled at finding reasons not to do things.

appears. Because she opposes changing the status quo regarding the administration's cross-Strait policies, she is in the position of producing arguments in support of not changing the policy—or in other words, "finding reasons not to do things." And this task, the cable says, she does very well.

2

Here are three statements from the excerpt:

  • As Vice Premier, we expect her to be consistently well informed on issues and very clear about the policy positions that the Chen Administration will stake out.

  • She is the kind of lawyer most skilled at finding reasons not to do things.

  • As the person who started Taiwan's push for a Free Trade Agreement with the U.S., we can expect that she will continue this effort and push even harder in light of the July 2007 expiration of trade negotiating authority.

The first says that she is expected to be familiar with how the Chen Administration thinks. The third says that she is expected to work hard towards the stated goal.

If we are to read the middle statements consistently with the others, one reading is that she is skilled at finding the reasons that the reluctant parties might cite to try to hinder her efforts. In other words, the sentence in question can be read as saying that she excels at anticipating the objections to her proposals.

1

There are two types of lawyers: (1) the type who tells you why you can't do what you want to do; (2) the type who tells you how you can do what you want to do. The first sees all the problems but no solutions. The second sees how to get around the problems and implement the solutions.

She is the kind of lawyer most skilled at finding reasons not to do things. As the person who started Taiwan's push for a Free Trade Agreement with the U.S., we can expect that she will continue this effort and push even harder in light of the July 2007 expiration of trade negotiating authority.

When I read the quote above, the first sentence describes a different person than the second sentence. The first sentence describes lawyer type 1; the second sentence describes lawyer type 2. The preceding sentences also describe an energetic, can-do person.

I vote to ignore the sentence in question. I'd blame the translation, but the OP doesn't think it is translated from the Chinese. It is a sentence at total variance with the rest of the quote, and somehow it slipped by. It happens.

1

This is a kind of disguised disparagement what we know by the name of INNUENDO/ INSINUATION — a rhetorical device with an omitted, but obvious conclusion to reinforce the argument.

In the foregoing lines her expertise and adroitness is established beyond doubt; but she is 'savvy' or shrewed.

If something is not done she has her logic ready at hand to establish like an efficient lawyer that it is not intended to be done, and so remained undone. However reality tells a different tale.

Though she can vigorously prove otherwise convincingly, the writer of the report wishes her to effectively implement the Free Trade Agreement.

This is my understanding of the intended meaning of the line.

1

The quoted sentence is a warning, phrased as a grudging compliment. It relates to the kind of lawyer who would look at proposed conditions in any sort of contract, and they'd be able to say, "We don't have to do THAT unless you do THIS." More often than not, the other party withdraws the condition, rather than acquiescing to the counterproposed horse-trading. And that would be bad news for the State Department people who have to deal with this lady.

PS: That wikileak wasn't translated. It's a leaked intelligence document authored by someone at the American Institute Taiwan, which is an "unofficial" US State Department branch thinly fronted as a nonprofit (I kid ye not). The author might speak fluent Chinese, but they're a US citizen who wrote that document in English. That's not an assumption: the US Department of Defence would not issue Chinese nationals the sort of clearances needed to access SIPRNet. The "SIPDIS" headers all over the document relate to DoD-administered SIPRNet (Secret Internet Protocol Router Network). AIT has direct SIPRNet cable lines to the Secretary of State, Secretary of Defense, the CIA, the DIA, US Pacific Command, several US consulates and embassies, and everyone else listed under "To:" on the leaked doc itself. Nothing and no-one gets that kind of clearance privilege (and funding!) unless they're in Uncle Sam's back pocket.

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