The Middle East and China’s Cultural Exchange

China’s recent reforms and opening-up policy has enhanced the recent Sino-Arab cultural exchange according to the China.org website and Egyptian officials who attended a symposium held in Egypt last week (Monday 15th October 2019).

The symposium, held at the Chinese Cultural Centre in Cairo (CCC), heard from key speakers such as, Anwar Mogheith, head of Egypt’s National Center for Translation (NCT), and Fathy Abdel-Wahab, head of the country’s Cultural Development Fund (CDF),

Mogheith said that China’s development has led to a new popularity of the Chinese language among Egyptian learners and has attracted the attention of NCT to the extent that they have now been able to translate over 20 books directly from Chinese to Arabic instead of translating from a medium, or interim language such as, English.

He stated that “we have translated more than 20 books on different aspects of China directly from the Chinese language, including those on the development of small and medium sized enterprises in China, the history of development of Chinese thought, the Chinese food culture, and Chinese poetry.”

He believes that the growing tend within Egypt to learn Chinese highlights a promising future for the translation of works from Chinese to Arabic and vice-versa.

The NCT Chief added, “since the mid-1990s, Egyptians have realized that China has become an influential element in human civilization, so language colleges started to open Chinese department and more students started to apply to learn the Chinese language”.

China’s opening up to other nations is best seen in its Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) which seeks to promote relating products and offer the option for partnerships and mutual development opportunities with participating states.

The symposium saw both Egyptian officials and Chinese experts expressing their views that these reforms by China will lead to improved Chinese economic development while also increasing probable coalition with other Arab states through mutual projects and cultural understanding.

Abdel-Wahab, the CDF chairman, said that China has promoted itself in a positive light during the symposium, showing that the “country is productive in terms of cultural industries represented in books, films, animation movies, TV series, radio programs and other cultural means”.

The CDF Chairman has visited China several times and met with Arab-speaking Chinese people which has suggested to him that “China are very keen” to work alongside and communicate with Arab people.

Dozens of visitors attended the symposium, including Egyptian academics, parliamentarians, businessmen, and Arab students who are learning the Chinese language at university level.

One student, Ibrahim Mohamed, a junior at the Chinese Department of the Faculty of Arts at Cairo University said he attended the symposium as he hoped to learn more about the Chinese culture in general and to see what impact their reform and opening-up policy has had upon present-day China.

He went on to say that “since I am a student of Chinese, learning more about the Chinese culture would help me in the field of Chinese translation in the future”.

Mohamed also said that he had taken part in several language, singing and dancing competitions at the CCC as part of the culture exchange, alongside listening to the speakers and discovering more about Sino-Arab relations.

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