Mission and responsibility of the Asia-Pacific translation and interpreting community in the post-epidemic era

0 Comment(s)Print E-mail China.org.cn, May 11, 2020
Adjust font size:

Gao Anming, Chair of the APTIF Joint Committee & Vice President and Editor-in-Chief of China International Publishing Group

Gao Anming, chair of the APTIF Joint Committee & vice president and editor-in-chief of China International Publishing Group, speaks at the Asia-Pacific Translation and Interpreting Webinar on Combating COVID-19 on May 11, 2020. [Photo provided to China.org.cn]

Respected FIT President Kevin Quirk, Vice President Alison Rodriguez,

Dear colleagues of the Asia-Pacific translation and interpreting community, 

Good afternoon and good morning! 

It's so nice to see old and new friends here. I really wish we could actually meet in person but for the reason you are all aware of, it appears this is the best platform we have for the time being.

As of yesterday, there are more than 3.9 million people worldwide and 257 thousand people in the Asia-pacific region who have been infected by the deadly COVID-19 virus, and sadly, more than 274 thousand and 9.8 thousand lives globally and in the region have been lost, according to the WHO. Never have a contagious disease inflicted calamity of this magnitude to so many people in such a short time during the last 100 years. At this critical moment, when people around the world are fighting a resolute war against the epidemic, it is of great significance for the Joint Committee of the Asia-Pacific Translation and Interpreting Forum (APTIF) and the Translators Association of China (TAC) to organize this webinar, and discuss the role of translation and interpreting in promoting mutual understanding and the sharing of experiences among countries and regions during this difficult time and facilitating political- and economic cooperation, as well as cultural exchanges in the post-epidemic era.

The COVID-19 pandemic has posed an immense threat to the health and lives of people throughout the world, as well as brought severe challenges to both the global public health system and the world economy. At a time of crisis, the Asia-Pacific T&I community came out boldly and offered timely help, supporting the battle against the virus with their expertise in an all-round manner, including translation, interpreting and language technologies. 

The TAC and the APTIF Joint Committee have always been in close contact and supported each other, thereby laying a solid foundation for the Asia-Pacific T&I community's participation in the fight against COVID-19. Valuable experiences and outcomes on the prevention and treatment of COVID-19 have been extensively communicated worldwide, after being translated into different languages. For instance, Keywords to Understand China: The Fight Against COVID-19 and A Handbook of 2019-nCov Pneumonia Control and Prevention, compiled by TAC, have provided guidance on global epidemic prevention and control, as well as public health governance. 

Regardless of the risk of infection, many interpreters are working on the frontline, most notably face-to-face with "close-contacts" in hospitals and airports, so as to facilitate doctor-patient communication. Translation service providers have also got actively involved in the battle through technological innovations. By using Internet tools, such as big data, remote translation management platforms, and machine translation systems, they have helped overcome language barriers in the fight against COVID-19 by offering free or affordable language services. 

I remember of Ms Ji Jin, a lecturer at the School of Foreign languages of Sichuan University, who flew into Italy on March 11 as a member of the Chinese medical team at the height of local epidemic. She worked as an interpreter and, not intimidated by direct exposure to high risks, assisted the team to fulfill its mission. She wrote in her diary that, let me quote, "I am from Mianzhu, Sichuan province. During the Wenchuan earthquake in 2008, Italy built an emergency hospital in Mianzhu to provide assistance, so this time, I am grateful that I have the opportunity to repay the kindness, and contribute to the fight against the epidemic in Italy by making the most of my translation and interpreting skills."

There are many other language professionals who have also joined the efforts to contain the epidemic in one way or another. The T&I community has been acting as the link in anti-epidemic information exchanges and has, thus, made remarkable contributions to the effective epidemic prevention and control in the Asia-Pacific region. Their unremitting efforts and hard work have been widely recognized and respected. On behalf of APTIF Joint Committee, I would like to pay highest tribute to all translators and interpreters, who have contributed to the anti-epidemic effort in the Asia-Pacific region and beyond!

COVID-19 cannot change the fact that peace and development remain the underlying trend of our times, and nothing can stop our advancement of civilization and progress. The Asia-Pacific T&I community is a major force in supporting epidemic prevention and control in the region, avoiding misunderstanding, as well as promoting exchanges and mutual learning among nations. For these reasons, I would like to make the following proposals:

1. Maintain close coordination and build consensus on fighting COVID-19 in the Asia-Pacific region. In the face of this pandemic, no country can go it alone or stay out of it. Only by avoiding misunderstanding and working closely with each other can we safeguard our common home and build a community of shared future.

2. Seize the opportunity to improve the education and training of translators and interpreters. We should conduct relevant research on the translation and interpreting industry under the impact of COVID-19 and strengthen personnel training, especially for health care and emergency services, so as to prepare language professionals for sudden and unexpected public health crises.

3. Be innovative and promote the development of the industry. COVID-19 has brought both challenges and opportunities, and we can take this opportunity to adjust and consolidate the translation and interpreting industry, as well as accelerate its progress with modern technological means.

4. Strengthen the communication mechanism of the APTIF Joint Committee. We should further implement the Joint Committee mechanism and hold an Asia-Pacific translation and interpreting webinar each year, and issue newsletters to members of the joint committee on an irregular basis, so as to enhance mutual learning and experience sharing among the Asia-Pacific T&I community, and promote the prosperity of translation and interpreting in the Asia-Pacific region.

Dear President Kevin Quirk, Vice President Alison Rodriguez, colleagues and friends,

As a famous English saying goes, "every cloud has a silver lining". As we mourn for the tragic loss of lives, let us work concertedly to make our part of contribution by joining hands in the battle against COVID-19, turning the crisis into an opportunity, and, together, creating a brighter future for the Asia-Pacific translation and interpreting community!

I wish all of you good health and best of luck.

Thank you. 

Follow China.org.cn on Twitter and Facebook to join the conversation.
ChinaNews App Download
Print E-mail Bookmark and Share

Go to Forum >>0 Comment(s)

No comments.

Add your comments...

  • User Name Required
  • Your Comment
  • Enter the words you see:   
    Racist, abusive and off-topic comments may be removed by the moderator.
Send your storiesGet more from China.org.cnMobileRSSNewsletter