Chinese interpreters and Soviet specialists in Shaanxi Province during the Great Leap Forward

Publication type Article
Status Published
Occupation: Senior Lecturer, Department of Oriental Studies
Affiliation: Ural Federal University
Address: 4, Turgenev str., Ekaterinburg, 620002, Russian Federation
Journal nameProblemy Dalnego Vostoka
EditionIssue 3

The issue of the Soviet Union's assistance to China in the 1950s and the subsequent dispatch of a large number of Soviet specialists cannot be fully studied without revealing the role of translators in the process of providing this assistance, because it was translators who were the main link that allowed to transfer of extensive Soviet experience to the Chinese side. The Chinese archival documents at our disposal allow us to reveal the nature and content of the work of Chinese translators with Soviet specialists in the territory of Shaanxi Province. Thanks to the concentrated assistance of the USSR to create military facilities during the first and partly second Chinese five-year plans, this province became a new center of military production in China. The content of our documents allows us to reveal the methods and principles of the organization of translation activities by the Chinese leadership for Soviet specialists during the years of the Great Leap Forward. It is in the documents of this period that we can detect the emergence of a new understanding of the basic functions of the translator. If previously translators were mainly a link for the transfer of Soviet knowledge and experience to the Chinese side, then in the years of the Great Leap Forward one of the main functions of the translator was the task of relaying Chinese ideological postulates in relation to specialists. Chinese side tried to convey the ideas of the "big leap" to the soviet specialists through translators in order to turn them into a tool for implementing the super-tasks for Chinese society. In this regard, one of the main requirements for Chinese translators was their ideological literacy, which was even higher than knowledge of the Russian language and translation skills. At the same time attempts at ideological pressure on Soviet specialists led to increased alienation and conflicts between the parties.


The author expresses his gratitude to Sergey Smirnov, Professor of the Department of Modern and Contemporary History of UrFU, for his help in writing the article.

KeywordsSoviet specialists, China, Shaanxi province, Great Leap Forward, Chinese interpreters
Publication date21.06.2022
Number of characters25860
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