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UPDATED: April 27, 2015 NO. 18 APRIL 30, 2015
Kept in Translation
Top translators hang out
By Yuan Yuan

NEW HEAD: Zhou Mingwei (left), newly elected President of TAC's Seventh Executive Committee, presents a certificate to former Foreign Minister Li Zhaoxing, chief advisor to the committee, on April 20 (WANG XIANG)

The Translators Association of China (TAC), the only national association for the translation and interpreting community and language service in China, had its seventh congress in Beijing on April 20-21.

More than 300 representatives from the translation industry around the country attended the event, which is held once every five years. Zhou Mingwei, President of China International Publishing Group (CIPG), was elected president of TAC's Seventh Executive Committee, after Li Zhaoxing, former Minister of Foreign Affairs.

Three renowned translators, He Zhaowu, Liang Liangxing and Hao Yun, received the Lifetime Achievement Award in Translation at the congress. It is one of the most prestigious translation prizes in China.

Li delivered a report on the work of the Sixth TAC Executive Committee in the past five years at the congress.

"Translation is becoming more important as China takes a more active role in the international community," said Li. "In the past five years, TAC has held more than 100 translation workshops and seminars on translation and we have seen a growing pool of talent join in."

"Translation is the art of communicating across cultural and language barriers," said Jiang Jianguo, deputy head of the Publicity Department of the Communist Party of China at the congress. "TAC, in the past decades, has played a leading role in promoting the development of translation industry in China and helped to convey China's culture to the world. It will definitely play a more important role with more international communication between China and foreign countries."

Founded in 1982, TAC aims to protect the rights and interests of translators and interpreters as well as other people engaged in the language service industry. Upholding the quality of translation and interpretation, as well as facilitating understanding and cooperation among all stakeholders of the language industry, it functions both as an academic society and a trade association. Since 2012, it has issued annual reports on the state of the industry in China.

In the 2014 Report on China's Translation Industry by TAC, it revealed that from 2012 to 2013, China had 18,778 new companies providing language-based services, with an average annual increase of up to 25 percent. Most of these companies were also optimistic about the market potential of the translation industry in China.

In 2011, the workload of translation from Chinese into foreign languages accounted for 54.4 percent, marking the first time it surpassed that from foreign languages into Chinese. More than 90 percent of the translation companies reported that the demand for translations out of Chinese is continuing to increase.

"This is a result of China's going-out strategy," said Huang Youyi, Vice Executive President of TAC. "Properly telling China's stories and delivering China's information to the world will be a crucial task for the translation industry."

But the number of qualified translators is far less than what the market demands, according to the report. Even though 96 percent of the full-time translators have a bachelor's or higher degree, the relatively low income forms a bottleneck for the industry.

Among the 120 translation companies researched in the report, 74 percent have less than 50 employees, and 19 percent of the companies have less than five employees.

"The small scale of these companies has made it hard to thrive and increase the efficiency of the whole industry," said the report.

"In July 2014, CIPG founded the China Academy of Translation in Beijing as a talent pool for translators, aiming to improve the evaluation system of China's translation professionals and provide training to both Chinese and foreign translators," said Zhou. "The current international situation has offered a great opportunity as well as challenges for the development of translation industry in China."

Copyedited by Kieran Pringle

Comments to yuanyuan@bjreview.com

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