Bringing together the Asia-Pacific translation and interpreting community to combat COVID-19
The Asia-Pacific Translation and Interpreting Webinar on Combating COVID-19 was held on May 11, 2020. The forum was co-organized by the Joint Committee of the Asia-Pacific Translation and Interpreting Forum (APTIF) and the Translators Association of China (TAC), with the theme of “bringing together the Asia-Pacific translation and interpreting community to combat COVID-19”. Gao Anming, chair of the APTIF Joint Committee & vice president and editor-in-chief of China International Publishing Group, and Kevin Quirk, president of International Federation of Translators (FIT), among other representatives of relevant translation and interpreting organisations in the Asia-Pacific region, addressed the forum.
Gao Anming pointed out in his speech that, at a time of crisis, the Asia-Pacific translation and interpreting (T&I) community came out boldly and offered timely help, supporting the battle against the virus with their expertise in an all-round manner, including T&I and language technologies. The T&I community has been acting as the link in anti-epidemic information exchanges. Their unremitting efforts and hard work have been widely recognized and respected. He also noted that, as the impact of the epidemic lingers on, the Asia-Pacific T&I community remains a major force in supporting epidemic prevention and control in the region, avoiding misunderstanding, as well as promoting exchanges and mutual learning among nations. For these reasons, he put forward four proposals: 1) maintain close coordination and build consensus on fighting COVID-19 in the Asia-Pacific region so as to safeguard our common home and build a community of shared future; 2) seize the opportunity to improve the education and training of translators and interpreters, especially the training of language professionals for health care and emergency services; 3) be innovative and take the opportunity arising from the crisis to adjust and consolidate the T&I industry; and 4) strengthen the communication mechanism of the APTIF Joint Committee, with the aim to enhance mutual learning and experience sharing among the Asia-Pacific T&I community, and promote the prosperity of T&I industry in the Asia-Pacific region.
Kevin Quirk said that, the coronavirus, as you are all aware, knows no boundaries, does not respect international borders and makes no distinction as regards who it may affect. In short, the rapid spread of COVID-19 worldwide means we are all in this together. And we do need to counter it by coming together and pooling our resources. What we are not always good at is working together with other associations at a regional or even global level to focus on key areas where we face similar challenges. I think there is no better opportunity for us to stand together than the situation we are facing now. Countering the spread of the COVID-19 virus is one prime example where we do need to pool our resources.
Yang Ping, deputy secretary-general of TAC & FIT council member, read out the “Initiative to pool the strength of the Asia-Pacific translation and interpreting community to combat COVID-19” on behalf of the forum. The initiative calls upon translators and interpreters in the Asia-Pacific region to come together to accomplish their mission through providing both language and intellectual support in fighting COVID-19; bridge the language gap and promote mutual understanding; help promote people-to-people connectivity and contribute to peace, development, stability and prosperity of the world; and do their part to help create a brighter future for the T&I community in the Asia-Pacific region.
Xing Yutang, executive director of the APTIF Joint Committee, moderated the forum. Translation experts, scholars and entrepreneurs from 10 countries and regions, including Australia, China, Hong Kong (China), Iraq, Macao (China), Malaysia, Myanmar, New Zealand, South Korea and the United Kingdom participated in the video conference. They held extensive and in-depth discussions and experience-sharing on the role of translators and interpreters in the fight against the epidemic and on how to better unite the Asia-Pacific T&I community for this purpose.
It is the first time for the APTIF Joint Committee to organise an online forum since its establishment in 2016. This event is of great significance for innovating the mechanism of exchanges among APTIF members, mobilising the Asia-Pacific T&I community to contribute to the fight against the epidemic, and promoting exchanges and cooperation among the Asia-Pacific countries and regions.