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Publishing house celebrates boom in interest in China

By Bo Leung and Conal Urquhart in London | chinadaily.com.cn | Updated: 2017-03-15 01:56

China is trying to raise its cultural influence in parallel with its economic power by engaging with dozens of foreign writers and sinologists, as manifested by an event staged by the China Publishing Group at the London Book Fair on Tuesday.

Jiang Jun, vice-president of CPG, told attendees at the Foreigners Writing About China event that, as China’s economy has grown, so has interest from non-Chinese people in China’s culture.

“China is not just an economic powerhouse but a cultural influence on the world,” he said.

Titles released at the event include Recollections of the Past written by German sinologist Wolfgang Kubin, China-India Relationship (Chinese and English versions) written by Indian sinologist B. R. Deepak and A Concise History of China, co-edited and co-abridged by British scholar Michael Dillon and others.

The Chinese-English version of Latest Annotations to the Book of Changes written and translated by Shao Naidu was also launched. The Book of Changes or I Ching is an ancient Chinese book that has been analyzed and commented on throughout its 3,000-year history and that has attracted attention and praise from philosophers and scientists for centuries.

Zhang Gaoli, editor-in-chief of the China Translation Publishing House, said his company launched its program in 2015 with a seminar in Beijing on translation.

“When I communicated with those sinologists, I found they all had interesting stories about their time in China and their experiences and I was curious to know more about when and how they had started to learn about culture and languages … So, we initiated the program, Foreigners Writing About China.”

Zhang said the collaboration will help promote Chinese culture and push Chinese books into the international market.

Zhang also signed agreements with Swedish sinologist Cecilia Lindqvist and French sinologist Joel Bellassen, who will write books about China.

Lindqvist said she hopes to share her interesting experiences.

“I wanted to inform Swedish readers about the wonderful things that can be found in China,” she said. “People didn’t know about China, so I wanted to write a book on the beauty and difficulties of China.”

The writers involved in the project will share their stories, including their backgrounds, their experiences, and the reasons why they developed an affection and fascination for the country.

Lindqvist said, in 1970, after a decade of travels in other countries and having two children, she introduced the Chinese language and culture to students at a Swedish middle school.

After the book launches and meetings, the sinologists, scholars and publishers got together to discuss the translation, publication and overseas promotion of more than 30 export-oriented titles displayed by CPG.

Charles Aylmer, head of Chinese department at Cambridge University, said the field was once unpopular but is now of interest to many people.

“China has changed a great deal,” Aylmer said. “I think people today have an entirely different perception of China. When I started with Chinese, 40 years ago, people would ask why, and now they say it was a clever move because China has risen to become such an important economic power in the world.”

Contact the writers at boleung@mail.chinadailyuk.com

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