Today,thousands of sinologists are active in their special expertise in relation to Chinese culture, promoting the mutual understanding and recognition of western countries, and even the world. We put our eyes on 21 sinologists, discovering their personal stories with China.



  Haiwang Yuan


  Haiwang Yuan, tenured professor of WKU in the U.S. and guest professor with the Foreign Languages College of Nankai University, has his academic interest in Chinese culture in general and ethnic culture in particular. He is the author of Magic Lotus Lantern and Other Tales from the Han Chinese, Princess Peacock and Tales from Other Chinese Peoples, Tibetan Folktales, This Is China, and Chinese New Year—all written in English. He co-edited the Berkshire Encyclopedia of China and translated the Xinjiang cities of the Top 100 Cities series from Chinese to English. His bilingual Chinese Proverb Stories and Learning Modern Chinese through Classics are set to come out at the end of the year. He is finishing up his Encyclopedia of Chinese Ethnic Groups for the Encyclopedia of China Publishing House, which will be published in early 2019.


  Please share your stories about how you start to get interested in China and Chinese culture?

  I am a Chinese American with full Chinese ancestry. That is, I was born and grew up in China. To answer the question, allow me to quote myself from the introduction to the first of my books published in the U.S., “When I was a child, I was never tired of listening to my mother tell how two little sisters outsmarted a treacherous big wolf and to my father recount the Herculean deed of a greenwood hero who subdued a man-eating tiger single-handedly. In a word, my parents sowed the seed of interest in me at an early age.” By interest, I meant Chinese folktales in my book, but it applies to China and Chinese culture at large as well.


  Concerning your current study on Chinese culture and language, what are the difficulties and challenges?

  Firstly, being on the other side of the globe, it is difficult to get all the information I need to write and translate about China, albeit the databases subscribed by my institution and the availability of the internet. Secondly, with the theater I am enjoying, I still need a much larger field to bring my potential to full play, and I hope I can find such an opportunity by being part of this SFLTP program.


  In the works that you translated or published, how did you objectively show the readers the real Chinese culture and China’s change and development in recent years?

  On the one hand, I am always resenting biased attempts to discredit one’s native country for money and fame. On the other, I treat objectivity as academic integrity that I must maintain in the academia.  The love for my native country and her culture has helped me to keep the balance. For example, when introducing Chinese history in one of my books, I could not bypass the difficult decade that the Chinese, including me, faced. While touching upon the difficulties, I did not omit the achievements made around the time. 


  China is now promoting its communication and cooperation with the rest of the world. So what do you think are the challenges and difficulties facing China in aspects of translating and publishing Chinese works in foreign countries.

  Each culture has its unique readership. Take the American and French children’s books for example. While the La Petite Poule (Different Carmela) series is an award-winner in France, and its Chinese version sells millions in China, it may be a tough sell in America, where children’s books are strictly divided by ages in accordance with scientific research on children education. The young American readers, so used to a picture a page with very few texts, may find a page with multiple illustrations and many texts overwhelming. Therefore, to publish overseas, the readership of each culture must be carefully studied.


  What challenges and opportunities do you think will be brought to China and your country by the Belt and Road Initiative?

  The topic of “China’s Belt and Road Initiative” itself provides an opportunity for publishing. In my case, it requires a lot of hard work to explain to the American readers, who are curious, suspicious, fearful, or even hostile. Publishing by education can be a good start. As the initiative unfolds and more achievements are made, publication of introduction to the achievements can then follow.