Backlash against a new Chinese television drama about its fight against Covid-19 underscores the challenges facing Beijing as it attempts to steer the narrative about its handling of the pandemic. ( from a news from Blooomberg)

I have a question related to "challenges facing Beijing". Reduction in the adjective clauses, there is an obligation that subject is need to be before the relative pronoun, right ? So, how can "challenges facing Beijing" be possible ? Such as like, Beijing facing challenges is acceptable but I didn't understand how come "challenges facing" comes first.

If you help, I will be appreciated. Thanks.

  • Welcome to the site. To be honest, I don't fully understand the question, but I can say that there is no OVS here. In a sentence like "Several challenges face Beijing", "several challenges" is the subject, Beijing the direct object. There is no inversion. At lexico.com/definition/face you can see definition 2.2, "(of a problem or difficult situation) present itself to and require action from (someone or something)".
    – rjpond
    Sep 21, 2020 at 21:13

1 Answer 1


The word "facing" can be used either way.
"Beijing faces challenges steering the narrative... or
"Challenges face Beijing in steering the narrative...

You may think of it as "challenges" and "Beijing", facing each other, compared to two individuals standing face-to-face. Each is facing the other.

Both meanings are shown here:
Merriam-Webster "face"

5a : to recognize and deal with straightforwardly
face the facts
6b: : to be a prospect or a source of concern for
the problems that face us

Definition 5a has the people facing the problem.
Definition 6b has the problem facing the people.

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