Encouraged by Xi’s letter, foreign experts with FLP vow to contribute more to exchanges between China and rest of the world
Honor in languages
Published: Oct 18, 2022 02:28 PM Updated: Jan 04, 2023 09:28 PM
Foreign experts at the Foreign Languages Press (FLP) discuss during work. Photos: Courtesy of FLP

Foreign experts at the Foreign Languages Press (FLP) discuss during work. Photos: Courtesy of FLP

Editor's Note:

Chinese people believe that letters are as valuable as gold. For thousands of years, letters, across mountains and oceans, have been delivering the writers' sentiments, friendship, and expectations.

Xi Jinping, general secretary of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee and Chinese president, has managed to find time to reply to some letters from different parts of the society and the world despite his busy work schedule.

Through his letters, Xi has corresponded with international friends from all walks of life on numerous occasions, part of a series of excellent stories of China's international exchanges in the new era. The letters have also added vivid color to the diplomacy between China and other countries.

The Global Times traced and contacted some of the addressees of Xi's letters to hear the inspiring stories behind the letters and their communication with the Chinese president.

In this installment, foreign experts with Foreign Languages Press who wrote a letter to President Xi and also jointly translated Xi Jinping: The Governance of China shared their feelings about Xi's reply letter and also their own stories about China and their experience in conveying Chinese voices to the world.

The fourth volume of Xi Jinping: The Governance of China on display at the entrance of the Beijing Book Building on July 12, 2022. Photo: VCG

The fourth volume of Xi Jinping: The Governance of China on display at the entrance of the Beijing Book Building on July 12, 2022. Photo: VCG

Chinese President Xi Jinping has encouraged foreign experts with the FLP to contribute more to promoting exchanges and communication between China and other countries and building a community with a shared future for humanity.

Xi made the remarks on August 25 in a letter replying to the foreign experts as the publishing house marks its 70th founding anniversary.

The experts, coming from different countries and cultural backgrounds, have a shared love of China and Chinese culture and have made significant contributions to the country's translation and publication works for foreign readers, Xi wrote in the letter. 

Xi urged the foreign experts to continue to pool their strengths in telling China's stories with excellent translations that can easily break linguistic and cultural barriers so that more foreign readers can understand China.

Since July 2022, the fourth volume of Xi Jinping: The Governance of China has been published by FLP in both Chinese and English. 

The book is available at home and abroad, and it met with overseas readers at the Frankfurt Book Fair, the world's largest book fair, in October 2022. 

When talking with the Global Times, three of the five foreign experts at the FLP who wrote a letter to Xi and also joined in translating the work Xi Jinping: The Governance of China shared their feelings about Xi's reply and their own stories about China.

Russian expert Timofey Bakhvalov

Russian expert Timofey Bakhvalov

 "I was greatly touched to receive a reply from the head of the state. It moved me and at the same time I understood that the responsibility on my shoulders as a foreign expert now is even bigger than before. To my opinion as a cultural emissary of FLP, all the foreign experts working in different spheres, not only in translation and publishing industry, must value and strive to fulfill the requirements and expectations set out in the letter of President Xi," Timofey Bakhvalov, an international relations, political and economic and Russian expert at FLP, told the Global Times.

Story of letters

On the occasion of FLP's 70th anniversary, five foreign experts summarized and presented their feelings about participating in the translation of Xi Jinping: The Governance of China and other books and works in a letter to Xi. 

"The main point of our letter was to express the honor in doing this important job and helping the world understanding China better," Bakhvalov told the Global Times.

He has lived in China for more than 17 years and has cooperated with the publishing house for four years. 

"Working in this field helped me not only to find new opportunities, but also to understand better the culture, the mentality and many other aspects. I came to the point that 'real' living in China is about 'being a part,' not 'being a witness,'" Bakhvalov noted.

German expert Risse Bukhard

German expert Risse Bukhard

Speaking about their reasons for writing the letter to Xi, German expert Risse Bukhard said that as a translator, he always hoped to have a chance to communicate with the original writer of a work, which can increase his inspiration, and translating Xi Jinping: The Governance of China made him long to talk with the Chinese president.

Bukhard told the Global Times that in the letter to Xi, they mentioned that the FLP serves a huge amount to foreign readers, including himself, and he felt very honored to take part in conveying Chinese voices to the world.

English expert David Ferguson

English expert David Ferguson

 The English expert David Ferguson, who comes from Scotland and has been in China for 16 years, received the Friendship Award from the Chinese government in September 2021. He shared how he felt after receiving the reply from Xi. 

"We were told that a reply had been received and we would have a meeting about it. It was obviously a big deal," he recalled.

Ferguson told the Global Times that they were so happy that they immediately shared the news that they had received a letter from Xi to all their relatives, friends and acquaintances.

These foreign experts writing the letter to Xi have been living in China for dozens of years and have cherished memories of the country.

Bakhvalov told the Global Times that being a witness to China's development has been a thrilling experience. He was amused how traditional hutong (alleyways) could neighbor skyscrapers and small family-owned restaurants and barbecue places on the street were just steps away from luxury hotels. He has been impressed by many of the country's achievements such as high-speed rail lines and the railway system covering the whole country, the C919 and CR929 aircrafts and the deep-sea manned submersible Fendouzhe.

Bukhard and Ferguson noted that they are impressed by China's historical cities and the unique culture of the many ethnic minority groups in the country.

They disagreed with many foreign media's reports showing prejudices about China. 

"It's like a big bag of arrogance, stuffed with ignorance, and tied with a knot of prejudice. I'm one of a group of Westerners who are active on social media and who constantly challenge the [false] Western media narrative," said Ferguson.