Translator Helps Convey President Xi's Message to the World

November 11, 2017
By Satarupa BhattacharjyaEditor: Yang Yang
She Helps Convey President Xi's Message to the World
Holly Snape is a member of the team that worked on translating President Xi Jinping's speech at the 19th National Congress of the Communist Party of China in October. [China Daily]

 

Holly Snape saw less of two things while growing up in Yorkshire in the 1980s-ginger and diversity.

But her travels to India, Sri Lanka, Nepal and other parts of Asia at the time made up for what she says she couldn't find enough of in her home county in Britain.

Snape, who works for the Central Compilation and Translation Bureau, an affiliate of the Communist Party of China's Central Committee, first visited China nearly two decades ago, when she along with her late mother took a cruise on the Yangtze River from Shanghai to Chongqing.

Since the weeklong 19th National Congress of the CPC in October, Snape, in her mid-30s, has found herself in media spotlight as a member of the CCTB team that worked on translating from Chinese into English and some other foreign languages, President Xi Jinping's report delivered there.

Its Chinese staff aside, the bureau has 13 foreign translators who study Party documents and translate them in English, German, French, Spanish, Russian, Japanese and Arabic.

Snape joined the bureau in 2014. And, this has been her highest-profile project so far.

"It conveys a real sense of confidence in the Chinese way, the idea that China needs to be and should be, can be confident in its own path, in its own direction," Snape told China Daily during an interview on Monday when asked for her assessment of Xi's speech at the opening of the Party conference, held once every five years.

"I (have) developed a better sense of the direction that China is going to be moving in," she added.

The report to the world's largest political party, Snape said, also emphasized the idea that the CPC needs to further tackle problems like corruption and govern itself with rigor. Further, it highlighted that China should play a more active role in global governance.

Describing it as "an enormous sense of responsibility", Snape says she read many of Xi's earlier policy addresses and took the time to prepare for the translation of his Oct 18 speech at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing so as to both "stay faithful to the original text" and be able to convey its full meaning to an English-speaking audience.

But she didn't reveal the date on which she first received a copy of the speech.

This was the first time since 1978 that foreigners were involved with the translation of such a confidential report before its release, according to State broadcaster China Global Television Network.

Snape doesn't know if her story would draw more qualified foreign translators to China but the mostly behind-the-scenes work itself is interesting and challenging.

"When I first came to China I realized very quickly I needed to speak Chinese if I wanted to understand China, to understand the culture-it is not just about the language, it's everything underneath it," she says, adding that without knowledge of Chinese, achieving genuine communication with local people becomes difficult.

Snape did a basic Chinese course when she was pursuing her master's degree in East Asian Studies at the University of Bristol but started to pick up the language after moving to Guangzhou to learn about social organizations in China at Sun Yat-sen University in 2007 as part of her postgraduate program.

In the capital of Guangdong province, where many people speak Cantonese, she made friends from all over China, including with migrant workers, she says.

Her Mandarin gradually built up.

A couple of years later she finally came to Beijing for her PhD. Initially a visiting student from Bristol at Tsinghua University, where she met her future husband, Snape has since lived in the Chinese capital. Her 2-year-old son speaks better Chinese-in an Anhui dialect-than English, she says.

Her curiosity about China was aroused by exposure to Chinese art and visits to British museums and to Hong Kong, primarily during her childhood and teens. Her mother was a schoolteacher and her father did an office job, and the family was vegetarian and didn't own a car out of concern for the environment, says Snape, whose Chinese name is Taoli.

"I come from a very ordinary family."

(Source: China Daily)

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