Attendees look at books on display during the release ceremony of the Myanmar edition of the first volume of "Xi Jinping: The Governance of China" in Nay Pyi Taw, Myanmar, July 9, 2018. (Xinhua/U Aung)
Translating the book "Xi Jinping: The Governance of China" into Urdu offered Farrukh Sohail Goindi a rare glimpse into the thoughts of the Chinese president.
"He is not a mere orator, but a well-versed person who gives references to history, culture, Chinese wisdom and global politics in his book," said Goindi, the managing director of Pakistan's book publisher Jumhoori Publications.
The book is seen as key to understanding China since its first volume was published in September 2014. By January 2018, it had been translated into 24 languages.
The second volume had its Chinese and English versions hit the market on Nov. 7, 2017, and is being translated into multiple languages.
By converting the book into various languages, translators from dozens of other countries are spreading the ideas that shed light on this visionary Chinese leader and China's future.
Miriam Castorina, a translator for the Italian version of the book, found difficulty grappling with the metaphors frequently used by President Xi, who is also the general secretary of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee.
A knotty expression, the "nail" spirit, caught out the young researcher of languages, literature and intercultural studies at University of Florence during her translation work. She found no equivalent in Italian of the expression, which means one should focus and persist rather than squander efforts. When using a hammer to drive in a nail, a single knock may often not be enough to root it firmly in place.
"In (the) Italian version, I choose a literary translation because it conveys the idea that if you make the best of the time and work persistently you can achieve your purposes," she said.
The richness of the Chinese language was another challenge. Translator for the Cambodian version Chea Munyrith spent a great amount of time selecting the right terms in Cambodian for China's neighborhood diplomacy, characterized by friendship, sincerity, reciprocity and inclusiveness, which is expressed in a mere four-character phrase in Chinese.
"The translation was a bit difficult because in Chinese, a word can have many meanings," said Munyrith, former director of the Confucius Institute of the Royal Academy of Cambodia.
MAN OF THE PEOPLE
Castorina said she was impressed when translating the appendix of the first volume of the book, "Man of the People -- Profile of Xi Jinping, General Secretary of the CPC."
She used "strong-willed" and "far-sighted" to describe the Chinese leader, whom she has never met.
"I find it interesting that he started from a very low position" and was engaged with everyday, ordinary people, Castorina said. "I think this kind of experience can help politicians really understand the lives of the people in his country," she said.
Castorina was inspired by Xi's speeches about rejuvenation. She said she especially likes the expression "the Chinese dream," describing it as full of "color and power."
"Hard work will overcome difficulties and make one's dreams come true." Xi's words also reminded Goindi of the founder of his own country, Muhammad Ali Jinnah, and his famous saying, "work, work, and work."
"Governing a big country is as delicate as frying a small fish," said Munyrith, quoting ancient Chinese philosopher Laozi who was also quoted by Xi. He said the Cambodian people are familiar with ancient Chinese philosophy because his country is deeply influenced by Taoism as well as the doctrines of Confucius and Mencius, two other ancient Chinese philosophers.
In August 2018, the Italian version of the book received a special Pavese Prize literary award for its congruence with Pavese's own love and passion for his motherland and its social progress. The Pavese Prize is named after the great Italian writer Cesare Pavese.
A number of translators told Xinhua that countries with different social systems and in different stages of development can get inspiration from the book.
"Pakistan has an urge for change ... I want Pakistanis to learn from the experience ... which he (President Xi) has shared in his book ... The book can help Pakistan in a big way," said Goindi, adding that he really wants every Pakistani to read it.
Castorina also said she has recommended the book to scholars and journalists who have an interest in contemporary China.
"We can learn from China's ability to make long-term plans and not only think about today's problems," she said. "It will be useful for Italy."
(Xinhua reporters Ji Li, Mao Pengfei, Liu Tian, Jiang Chao, Chen Xin, Zou Delu, Cai Guodong, Sun Shuo and Ge Chen also contributed to this report.)