Connecting thoughts

By Mei Jia | China Daily | Updated: 2017-05-19 07:34

The demand for stories in different languages related to the Belt and Road Initiative has risen, Mei Jia reports.

With China hosting the first Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation in Beijing earlier this week, the demand for stories related to the initiative has gone up, according to Chinese publishers.

Yury Tavrovsky, a professor with the Russian People's Friendship University in Moscow, says he sees the Belt and Road Initiative as an important plan for the world in this century but finds that some people, including fellow Russians, don't know much about it.

The China expert spent months from 2015 to 2016 visiting important Chinese cities along the new Silk Road, to figure out how the initiative has taken off since it was launched in 2013.

He covered 11,000 kilometers from the seaside city of Lianyungang in Jiangsu province to Alashankou and Khorgos in the Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region.

Connecting thoughts

He spoke to Russian-speaking Chinese port officials in Lianyungang, where the inland and sea routes of the Silk Road meet, and found a special dock reserved for Kazakhstan, a landlocked neighboring country.

"The Belt and Road Initiative in its current stage is like a big jigsaw puzzle in some sense. But after my trips, I found that China has already placed its own pieces," he says.

He says cities in western China have "developing zones", where beneficial policies are attracting more foreign investment.

"The initiative connects the past and the present," he says, adding that for China, it is bringing new opportunities.

As a foreigner examining changes in China in the light of the initiative, Tavrovsky has recorded his research and thoughts in a new book, titled New Silk Road, which was released in Russian and Chinese in the two countries in May.

In the book, Tavrovsky not only writes about what he saw and heard during his trips, but also combines his knowledge of Chinese cities with references to Chinese culture, including the classic Journey to the West.

"It's a highly informative and readable book, reminding me of Edgar Snow's Red Star Over China, with a similar significance in telling the world about innovation and reforms in China, and offering the author's analysis and reasoning," says Hu Zhengyuan, who works for a Chinese think tank.

Published by the Press of the Party School, the Chinese edition was launched at a reading club event on Wednesday.

Born in 1949, Tavrovsky is the first Russian to write a monograph on President Xi Jinping, which was released in 2015 and published as a series in a Chinese magazine in 2016.

Wang Wen, executive director of Chongyang Institute for Financial Studies of Renmin University, says the book illustrates well China's contribution to the world and shares its experiences from the start of the initiative.

"It's rare to see a book telling such stories from a foreigner's perspective," says Wang.

In that light, Xinhua News Agency, the State-owned Assets Supervision and Administration Commission and the Confucius Institute have jointly released a series in different languages, called The Belt and Road: People with Stories, inviting people from the countries involved with the initiative to share personal experiences.

Last week, the Foreign Languages Press also released a book titled Headway on the Maritime Silk Road in around 10 languages, including Chinese and English.

Based on a CGTN (formerly CCTV) documentary by the same name, the key element of the book is the use of 30 characters from more than 10 countries. It tries to combine three navigators' stories along the same sea route, but they span 1,500 years. And it also tells stories of families that safeguard traditional handicrafts like embroidery, Buddhist sculptures and porcelain items.

"The book is a cross-media cooperation. It tells about big strategies with small anecdotes," says Xu Bu, president of the press.

David Ferguson, an editor at China International Publishing Group, says he noticed many Chinese experts have sought to define and explain the benefits of the initiative.

"One of the characteristics of these books is that they all take a very academic perspective. They are rich in concept - and we need good-quality, high-level depictions. But they are also somewhat dry. There is something lacking. In English we call it 'the human touch,'" says Ferguson, who is also a translator.

Headway on the Maritime Silk Road does the opposite of such academic writing, he says.

"Instead, it tells us real stories, about real people. These are the individuals with drive and ambition, the entrepreneurs, the innovators - the very people who will extend the boundaries of the Maritime Silk Road, who will go to places and do things we never imagined, who will turn the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road into something real and concrete that brings benefits to people," he says.

The press also launched handy brochures on the initiative in six languages at the Beijing forum.

Another publisher, China Social Sciences Press, launched a series in English, covering studies on the initiative and globalization.

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 Connecting thoughts

Russian author Yury Tavrovsky attends the book launch of the Chinese edition of his latest work, New Silk Road (below), in Beijing on May 17. Provided To China Daily

 Connecting thoughts

A reader flips through new books on the Belt and Road Initiative at a Beijing bookstore. Provided To China Daily

 Connecting thoughts

The Belt and Road Initiative becomes a popular topic among the country's publishing industry. Provided To China Daily

(China Daily 05/19/2017 page20)

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