This week the world celebrates Chinese New Year. 2012 is the year of the Dragon, when it is said in Chinese astrology, that big things and great fortune come to pass. For many Chinese interpreters working throughout the developed world, we predict that their services are set to become more valuable than ever, as the global community increases its reliance on China.
Despite a recent wobble in Chinese market performance, sustained by the persisting Eurozone crisis, there is little doubt that the tide of international prominence is turning towards China. European countries including the UK are desperately looking to court the Chinese, with most recently George Osborne offering the UK as an offshore platform from which the Chinese can trade their Renminbi currency.
The property boom in China may also be over, but the country remains the World’s factory, at a time when the developed and First World continues to readjust itself from the hangover of the 2008 financial crisis, with the economy growing at a rate of 8.9% per year. Other factors including strong company balance sheets, high levels of savings, favourable demographics, and ongoing urbanisation mean that international investors will continue to look at China as an ideal prospect, and business owners will still use the region as an offshore manufacturing base.
This of course offers great opportunities for linguists with Chinese as a language, based in the developed world. Not only can they facilitate smooth communication, they can act as a vital prism through which our differing cultures can be understood. The suspicion with which China views the rest of the world within diplomatic circles, and the wariness that Western governments show in their dealings with the Chinese leadership means that interpreters and translators have an invaluable role in keeping the channels of communication open and messages clear, especially as Chinese culture is increasingly embraced throughout the world.
The 20th Century is often referred to as The American Century, as the World’s first superpower emerged from the rubble of the European and Asian empires. It is beginning to look likely that the 21st Century will be dominated by the rising health and wealth of China. As the developed world comes to terms with this power shift, demand for Chinese speaking experts will only grow, offering a new avenue of work for the many Chinese people who have moved to the West to improve their knowledge and skills.
The importance of a good Chinese interpreter will only increase in the years to come, and 2012 could be the year when it all began.