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Beyond diplomatic language

Updated: 2012-10-09 09:29
By Mei Jia ( China Daily)

Beyond diplomatic language

Ambassador of Seychelles Philippe Le Gall gives a speech in Beijing. Photos Provided to China Daily

He is an ambassador from Seychelles who has written a novel on a young Chinese prince's path to Venice. The French-language book has been translated into Chinese. Mei Jia finds out where Philippe Le Gall got his inspiration.

Related: The prince and his passion

When he was a young man, he was influenced by Jerome K. Jerome's literary sense of humor and by Cervantes' persistence in producing the epic Don Quixote at the ripe old age of 58. He also appreciated the works of Pearl S. Buck and Lao She.

But Philippe Le Gall became a career diplomat.

The first resident ambassador of Seychelles in China finds writing sets him apart from the other diplomats, who are more reticent about expressing themselves in the printed word. Le Gall believes his writing stimulates cultural exchanges that open doors and build bridges.

His latest novel, just released in September, is a tale of a young Chinese aristocrat. The Path to Venice: The Journey of Young Prince Houpili to the West was originally written in French and then translated into Chinese.

"We say if you come to China for one week, you feel you can write a book; for one month, an article; but for more than six months, you can pen nothing," Le Gall says.

"I'd like to prove that I still can, after being ambassador here for five years, even with the full understanding of the complexity and richness of Chinese culture."

Le Gall was involved in establishing the first Seychellois embassy in China in 2007 and has witnessed his country's growth as a holiday destination for Chinese tourists. The Mao-suited diplomat calls it the "Seychelles wave".

In 2011, Seychelles welcomed 2,000 Chinese tourists. This year, up to September, the figure has already doubled.

The ambassador uses cultural exchange to raise the visibility of his nation, "probably the nearest African country to China" - only four time zones away.

He has introduced honeymoon tours for young Chinese couples, held Sino-Seychelles culture weeks and published a collection of essays and short stories on comparative studies of the two countries' cultures.

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