Wang Chen, minister of the State Council Information Office, talked exclusively to China.org.cn about the 18th FIT (International Federation of Translators) World Congress taking place in Shanghai from August 4 to 7.
China.org.cn: What international impact do you think the FIT World Congress will have? Can you tell us something about the preparations for the congress?
Wang Chen: In April 2005, when China was selected to host the XVIII FIT World Congress, the country became the focus of the world's translation organizations. UNESCO director-general, Mr. Koichiro Matsuura, recently told FIT that the congress would have a huge significance in addressing the challenges and opportunities facing the translation industry.
The Chinese government is paying great attention to the congress. The preparations were strongly supported by both the State Council Information Office and the Shanghai Municipal authorities.
A record 1,500 translators from over 70 countries and regions will take part. Representatives of United Nations, European Union and UNESCO will address the congress, as will the assistant secretary-general of the United Nations Department for General Assembly and Conference Management, and the director general of the Directorate for Translation of the European Commission. Many international translation organizations will hold forums and seminars during the congress.
The Organizing Committee of the congress has received 1,510 abstracts of academic articles to be presented in the 88 sub-forums. The subject matter covers the relationships between translation, culture, education, the economy, diplomacy, management, and modern science. In terms of both quantity and quality, the articles are the best in the history of FIT.
An International Translation Industry Exhibition will be held alongside the congress. The multilingual news site, China.org.cn, will broadcast live reports of congress sessions. The congress has attracted a large number of translators and representatives of the translation industry.
As the director of the Organizing Committee of the congress, I expect the congress contribute significantly to the development of the translation industry.
China.org.cn: What does it mean for China to hold the FIT congress? What can China contribute to the international translation industry?
Wang Chen: The fact that China is hosting the congress reflects China's enhanced standing in the world, as well as the development of its translation industry.
Translation is becoming ever more important as China continues to reform and open up against the backdrop of globalization. Translation can help to pool the achievements of different civilizations, and enhance China's influence in the world.
The congress is a big event not only in the translation field, but also in the cultural field as a whole. It will also play an active and influential role in introducing China's culture to the world. Many countries have taken a great interest in China's rapid economic development and want to learn more about the country. Holding a congress in China will help promote cultural exchanges between China and the western world.
China.org.cn: The subject of this FIT congress is "Translation and Cultural Diversity". What is your understanding of this theme?
Wang Chen: In a time of rapid economic development and globalization, cultural diversity has become a subject of concern to people all around the world. The theme highlights the importance of translation in promoting civilization and multiculturalism. The congress can help present China to the world as a country engaging in a process of reform and opening up.
Multiculturalism is a motive force for the development of mankind. The interaction of different cultures can produce new and original ideas.
Multiculturalism is also a source of cultural innovation. New developments in dance, music, literature, paintings and crafts are often developed as a result of cultural exchanges.
Languages are the bearers of culture. Multiculturalism is closely connected with linguistic diversity. The United Nations declared 2008 "The International Year of Languages". Koichiro Matsuura has said that "Languages will play a great role in tackling the challenges of the coming decades. Multiculturalism is closely related to linguistic diversity."
China's idea of a harmonious world is gaining acceptance by more and more people. Translation is crucial to enhancing communication and mutual understanding between countries and increasing worldwide harmony.
China.org.cn: You have worked for several well-known media organizations. As the director of the State Council Information Office, can you give us your views on the relationship between translation and the media?
Wang Chen: Translators enhance mutual understanding between peoples, spread civilization and culture, and record the progress and development of civilization, in many ways playing the same fundamental role as reporters.
Translation and media are closely related in practice. The main media organizations in China such as the Xinhua News Agency, China Radio International, China International Publishing Group, China Daily, and CCTV International all have strong translation departments. For example people.com.cn reports in 7 languages, xinhuanet.com in 6 languages, china.org.cn in 9 languages, and cri.cn in more than 40 languages.
The Chinese media has for many years been using translation to introduce China to the world. Translation is an indispensable tool helping the Chinese media enhance its worldwide influence.
China.org.cn: As the director of the organizing committee, what are your expectations for the congress?
Wang Chen: First of all I would like to welcome the participants from around the world. The 18th FIT Congress is big event for the translation community both in China and around the world. I hope translators will continue to help promote communication, mutual understanding, civilization and multiculturalism. The congress can be a platform for both the Chinese translation industry and Chinese culture as a whole. Translation and help minimize misunderstandings resulting from cultural differences. I expect the congress to be fruitful and contribute to the development of the international translation community. I hope that translators around the world will continue to contribute to realizing the goal of a diverse but harmonious world.