Translated Chinese books are starting to gain a foothold in overseas markets with President Xi Jinping’s writings proving especially popular.
According to Zhang Fuhai, the director of China International Publishing Group, which runs Foreign Languages Press, publisher of Xi Jinping: The Governance of China, 6.42 million copies of the book have been distributed so far worldwide. It has been published in 21 languages in more than 160 countries and regions.
Reviewers see the book as an important window into China and say that is why it is so popular globally.
“This is the first time a serving leader of China has made his philosophy, his ideas and his programs available to the international community in (so many) multiple languages,” said David Ferguson, a Scottish writer, translator and foreign expert with the publishing group.
“An enormous amount of international attention is being paid to China at the moment. There are huge expectations of China. The world wants to know what to expect of China under the current leadership,” Ferguson said.
On Aug 23, the publisher launched the English and French versions of the president’s work, Up and Out of Poverty.
The book was originally published in Chinese in 1992. It comprises 29 of Xi’s speeches and articles written during his posting, from 1988-90, as Party secretary of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Ningde Prefectural Committee in East China’s Fujian province.
Speaking about the book, Wu Shangzhi, vice-minister of the State Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film and Television, said: “To eradicate poverty and boost development in eastern Fujian, the president devised innovative ideas, mechanisms and methods, and he has shared those in the book.
“The book shows his concern and care for the people there, and his confidence and determination to fight poverty.”
Bah Thierno Maadjou, a counselor with the embassy of Guinea in China, said the book offered thoughts, ways and a vision to help developing countries in fighting poverty.
Meanwhile, Zhang, the director of the publishing group, said: “President Xi’s ideas and the summarization of his experience offered a theoretical and political foundation for poverty alleviation in the country, where 55 million people have been lifted from misery — a feat as well as a miracle in human history.
“The theories are an important part of the Chinese governing philosophy and strategy. And, in multiple languages, the book will offer Chinese wisdom and solutions to issues shared by the international community.”
Separately, The Governance of China contains a fuller picture of Xi’s ideas.
The book, comprising 79 articles and speeches — from Nov 15, 2012, to June 13, 2014 — is seen as a key read for China watchers.
Milos Balaban, a professor with Charles University in Prague, in the Czech Republic, said at a symposium on the book in 2016 that the publication offered readers a chance to understand the reasons for China’s development, especially from a wider historical, political and economic background.
Balaban said the book showed that progress “isn’t possible without a sound and complete governing mechanism”.
He also said the country’s development model offered an example to the Czech Republic as well as other European countries.
Also at the 2016 symposium, Vojtech Filip, the leader of the Communist Party of Bohemia and Moravia, said: “One of President Xi Jinping’s great contributions is that he made the new strategic plans and implemented them, leading China into a new phase of development.”
Ten such symposiums, as well as 14 book launches, have been held around the world since the book was released in 2014.
Liu Yuhong of the promotion department of Foreign Languages Press said the publisher believes the global success of the book is a result of efforts by copublishers in different markets and the international branches of Chinese organizations.
Speaking about what impressed him most in the book, Ferguson said it was the Appendix, which offers a profile of Xi under the title, Man of the People.
“Often, Chinese political writing is all facts and figures. It is dry and conceptual, and lacks the human element that we value in the West. But the Appendix from Xi’s book tells the story of Xi’s experiences from his youth as an ‘intellectual being reeducated’ in rural Shaanxi (in Northwest China). This story enables you to ... see Xi as the very down-to-earth person he is in reality,” Ferguson said.
In the profile, Xi is quoted as saying: “The people aspire to a decent life — that is what we are fighting for.”