Self-image and self-reflection : From China's outbound translation strategies to her cultural export policy

Research output: Journal Publications and ReviewsRGC 21 - Publication in refereed journalpeer-review

5 Scopus Citations
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Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)643-666
Journal / PublicationBabel
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2017
Externally publishedYes


The futility of decades of government efforts to disseminate Chinese literature has triggered discussions among Chinese scholars on how to translate and who should be entrusted with this task. Some blame the failure on traditional concepts of translation that overemphasize faithfulness to the original to the point of disregarding target cultural conditions, but others insist that China should have control over its cultural export and that Sino-English should be used to internationalize English. Findings show that traditional concepts should not be blamed, as aggressively source-oriented strategies have been used in outbound translation only in recent years, and that this shift in translation norms in government-initiated outbound translation has spread to non-literary text types, and also to Hong Kong and Taiwan. The same kind of aggressiveness has recently been displayed in other forms of cultural export, triggering resistance in other cultures. All these changes may be attributable to a heightening of cultural self-image. What is needed to address the issue is cultural self-reflection, which will lead to the awareness that economic growth does not immediately bring cultural prestige, and that source-initiated cultural export efforts may make little difference in central cultures. Cultural awareness at a higher level can be achieved only through empathy.

Research Area(s)

  • Chinese culture, Cultural awareness, Cultural export, Outbound translation, Self-image, Self-reflection