Increase remuneration of translators

Updated: 2014-09-01 16:35

By Li Yang(

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The Chinese government should reform the remuneration standards and tax threshold for authors - as they have remained unchanged for 34 years, according to a report in the Oriental Morning Post.

The report said Chinese translator Sun Zhongxu - who was responsible for acclaimed translations of classics such as 1984, Animal Farm, and The Catcher in the Rye - committed suicide in Guangzhou on August 28. He was 41 years old and suffered from depression.

The tragedy has focused attention on the low and outdated ceilings concerning the earnings of writers and translators in China.

The translators are paid 80 yuan to translate 1,000 Chinese characters, and the income tax threshold has remained unchanged - at 800 yuan ($133) - for 34 years. It takes several months for a translator like Sun to translate a literary work of 200,000 words - earning about 14,000 yuan after tax.

The authorities responsible for publishing always complain that China does not have good translators - but not many people wish to take on such a demanding and unrewarding job.

The report said that this lack of good translators is preventing Chinese books from entering foreign markets. Additionally, professional Chinese translations from foreign languages are also rare today compared with a few decades ago.

Over the past 34 years, the policies concerning taxes of many industries have changed according to inflation and consumption levels. And the report said the authorities should increase the income tax threshold and the authors’ remuneration standards to allow writers and translators to live a descent life.