Translator from Myanmar, Kaung Min is committed to translating Chinese literature and has made contributions in promoting Chinese literature among readers in Myanmar. His major Chinese-Burmese translations include The Analects of Confucius, Besieged City (by Qian Zhongshu), and Mo Yan’s novels (Frog, Life and Death are Wearing Me Out, and Red Sorghum). His Burmese translation To Live (by Yu Hua) will be published. He has won the 2008 Myanmar National Literature Award for Translation, and the 2015 Special Book Award of China for Young Scholars.
Q1 How did you start to pay attention to or get interested in China?
I was born in Myanmar. When I was a kid, my parents sent me to a Chinese tuition class during my free times to study Chinese language. And I started to get interested in Chinese since I was a child. After growing up, I started translating Chinese literary works, and went further to study Chinese literature and culture myself. In 2015, I was awarded the Special Book Award of China for Young Scholars. To receive that award, I flied to Beijing. This was the first time I have ever been to Beijing, also the first time I have ever been to China. During that trip, I have had the opportunity to make friends with Chinese people, as well as sinologists from all over the world. This year is my third trip to Beijing.
Q2 When and how you started it to learn Chinese culture and made this your career?
I have been interested in Chinese literature and culture since I was a kid. In 2008, my first translation work was published. At first, translation was just my sideline, but with the translation and publication of many works, I fell in love with the work of literary translation. When I read a piece that I liked very much, I will want to translate it and share it with others.
Q3 From your perspective, what is the essence of translation?
In recent years, the Chinese works I translated are almost all literary works. I think the most important point of translation is not only to be faithful to the original, but also to convey the original literary style and spiritual outlook. In this way, the readers will see the real Chinese culture and China's change and development in recent years.
Q4 Do you notice any challenges regarding to your current study on Chinese culture and language?
I sometimes like challenging things. In fact, translation requires patience and concentration. I recently have an idea to challenge myself to translate a Chinese classic novel. But this may have to wait until next year or a few more years, because I have to do my homework before that.
Q5 What do you think are the challenges and difficulties facing China in aspects of translating and publishing Chinese works in foreign countries?
In Myanmar, it is not an easy task to publish a translation that is not translated from English. Most of the publishers in Myanmar tend to publish translations from English originals. And there are relatively few translators who translate directly from Chinese. This may be said to be one of the difficulties faced by Chinese works to be translated and published in Myanmar.
Q6 What challenges and opportunities do you think will be brought to China and your country by the Belt and Road Initiative?
My country, Myanmar, is a neighbor of China and a country along the Belt and Road. The two countries are joined by common mountains and rivers and there have been a long history of cultural exchanges. Therefore, with the continuous promotion of the “Belt and Road Initiative”, it will give more positive cultural exchanges between China and Myanmar. The people of Myanmar will further understand Chinese culture, and the Chinese people will also learn more about Myanmar culture. Of course, opportunities and challenges sometimes come together. Therefore, we must be prepared to face the challenges and overcome them while firmly grasping the opportunities.