Huang Youyi: China needs a strong team of translators

By Wang Wei
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Huang Youyi, member of the 12th National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) and vice president of China International Publishing Group (CIPG) [Wang Wei/]

Huang Youyi, member of the 12th National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) and vice president of China International Publishing Group (CIPG) [Wang Wei/] 

As China's annual political sessions approach, veteran Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) member Huang Youyi expresses his concern for China's present translation market in an exclusive interview with

China is now the world's second largest economy. A rise in cross-cultural communications has given birth to a flourishing translation market, but this market lacks a sufficient number of qualified translation professionals.

"The point is that we haven't established a qualification standard for translation companies. Lawyers and doctors are required to get certificates before entering the profession, and so should translators," says Huang Youyi, vice president of China International Publishing Group and veteran CPPCC delegate.

Huang is preparing to begin his second term as a CPPCC delegate, and plans to urge government leaders to create a new legal framework to better regulate and train translation professionals.

"This will build a strong communications platform for companies and individuals involved in translation related services. China needs an expert team of qualified translators to promote Chinese culture at a global level," Huang says.

Chinese Nobel laureate and literary master Mo Yan has opened a new commercial market for Chinese literature throughout the world. The best way to maintain this newfound momentum is to cooperate with foreigners who know China very well, Huang said.

Mo's success is partly attributed to his works and partly due to a team of expert translators, Huang added.

"Mo has a very international outlook in publishing his works overseas, and partners with foreigners to help translate his writing into different languages. Moreover, his translation team either cooperates with a Chinese partner organization or has close ties to the Chinese people," Huang argues.

"In truth, a handful of Chinese writers younger than Mo are becoming popular in overseas markets. We need more qualified translators to support their work abroad," says Huang.

Statistics indicate that there are more than 150 contemporary Chinese writers whose work has been translated into a foreign language. This number accounts for only 1.3 percent of the China Writers Association membership.

Every year, China publishes quite a large number of translated foreign literary works, while in the American literary market, translated literature only accounts for three percent of the market, among which very few are from China. In this sense, the influence of contemporary Chinese literature is still quite limited.

Poster of "The Legend of Zhen Huan" 

Earlier this year, news spread across the web that "The Legend of Zhen Huan," a popular Chinese drama, is likely to be introduced to the U.S. market. Heated discussions about the translation have been springing up online, and its elegant and interesting use of the Chinese language has taken China by storm in the past year.

The drama highlights the intrigue between emperor's concubines in the imperial palace during the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911). Due to distinctive characteristics of the times, people doubt whether or not Americans can understand the drama's cultural implications.

However, it's quite natural that such works, as part of China's diverse cultural heritage, are worth translating, Huang said.

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