“Last Chinese warning”: where did it come from and what does this expression mean

The comic expression “Last Chinese warning” is known to everyone today. But have you ever thought about how this phraseological unit appeared and what does the Chinese have to do with it?

The meaning of the expression

This phrase means fruitless, often joking verbal warnings, which, as a rule, obviously do not lead to anything. But sometimes it is used with serious intentions.

How did it come about?

Phraseologism appeared in the 50s and 60s. 20th century due to a very specific international political problem – in connection with the aggravation of US-Chinese relations due to the so-called Taiwan issue. The United States, which does not recognize the communist power of China, often made reconnaissance flights over the territory of the Celestial Empire. The PRC government, in turn, scrupulously recorded all the facts of border violations and in response to each sent a warning to the Americans – however, no actual actions were taken. But each note was regularly numbered: during the conflict, at least 900 of them were received.

All these “last warnings” were regularly broadcast by news agencies and soon became the talk of the town – and not only in Russian. This is how they say it in other fears on the territory of the former USSR, in particular, in Estonia there is a completely equivalent expression in Estonian. And in English, the expression “last chinese warning” also quite exists. Sometimes, to enhance the comic effect, phraseological units with numerals are used. For example, “148th Chinese warning”, “884th Chinese warning”. “Diary on the table!” and 10 more painfully familiar school phrases that modern teachers don't use.

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