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Ukrainian scholar promotes Chinese history

By Zheng Caixiong in Guangzhou | China Daily | Updated: 2023-11-09 08:40

Yegor Grebnev reads a collection of bamboo slips in his office at the Beijing Normal University-Hong Kong Baptist University United International College in Zhuhai, Guangdong province. [Photo provided to China Daily]

Professor encourages students to become 'ambassadors' of culture

Yegor Grebnev has enjoyed learning about Chinese culture and history.

Grebnev, an assistant professor at the Beijing Normal University-Hong Kong Baptist University United International College in Zhuhai, Guangdong province, can now interpret works from before the Qin Dynasty (221-206 BC) and translate classical Chinese into seven languages. A historian and Sinologist, he obtained a doctorate in Oriental studies from Oxford University.

The Ukrainian scholar said Chinese civilization is an endless treasure that never ceases to offer academia new findings, and foreign scholars have a unique advantage in studying it. "As foreigners, we are curious about everything about China, which prompts us to constantly ask questions, think, and find new research directions," he said.

Grebnev, who has studied Chinese culture and history for nearly 20 years, speaks fluent Chinese and is proficient in classical Chinese.

"Half of my life has been tied to China," he said.

Grebnev now teaches a Chinese culture and global communication course at UIC, and he has published multiple papers and given many lectures on ancient Chinese history.

Furthermore, he has established a method that enables him to use artificial intelligence to study the ancient Chinese classic Zuo Zhuan, or The Commentary of Zuo, a book analyzing chronicles of the Spring and Autumn Period (770-476 BC) written by historian Zuo Qiuming in the 4th century.

With this method, Grebnev uses AI to distinguish content and categorize dynasties based on the different writing features presented in Zuo Zhuan, which is the oldest Chinese historical chronicle in existence.

In addition, he is familiar with classic ancient Chinese books and texts, including Yizhoushu, a compilation of ancient historical documents, and the Bamboo Slips of Guodian Chu Tombs, a collection of slips of bamboo containing ancient texts. Yizhoushu in particular is a classical literary work from the pre-Qin Dynasty era that is not only valuable from a historical and sociological perspective, but is also of great linguistic significance, according to Grebnev.

Due to his fruitful discoveries in his research of ancient literature, Grebnev was invited to join a team that is in the process of translating the Bamboo Slips of Tsinghua. He is responsible for identifying the Chinese characters on the slips and translating them into English.

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