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Hi everyone,

My question may seem a bit nonsensical. I'm moving to Shanghai and was wondering if there was any possibility of working (including pro bono work) in China without actually having Chinese as a working language. I've worked in Europe in combinations that didn't include the 'host country's language, so I know this is a thing that exists, albeit rarely. I'm aware that the possibilities are probably few and far between... Is anyone familiar with the Chinese market? Thank you!

asked 26 Sep '12, 04:38

Louise's gravatar image


edited 16 Oct '12, 03:21

Delete's gravatar image

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It is absolutely possible to work on the Chinese market without having Chinese as a working language, as the Chinese booth will provide a retour most of the time anyway.In addition, interpreters based in China work all over Asia Pacific, even without Japanese, Chinese or Korean in their combination. There is a real demand for European languages. When you move to China, send your CV and a note to AIIC colleagues there and they will certainly welcome you!

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answered 26 Sep '12, 04:53

Danielle's gravatar image



Thanks Danielle! Very informative and prompt (not to mention encouraging)!

(26 Sep '12, 07:31) Louise

Hi, Louise:

I got some info from a Chinadaily article, and made an extract for the part in your interest. Hope this might help you somewhat and wish you best luck!

Note: all the following is from the article.

Tom Peart, an official interpreter for the Delegation of the European Union to China, who also manages the interpreters' budget, said that two years ago he spent 319 days in Beijing working for the EU. Some of the meetings required the use of two or three interpreters, so he hired a number of freelances to help with these high-level meetings.

"China is one of the world's fastest growing markets for international conferences and high-profile international events," said Martine Bonadona, president of Calliope Interpreters, a leading global network of professional interpreters that has just announced its official entry into China.

At present, 10 foreign interpreters are fully active on the Chinese mainland, but the six freelances among them are usually hired for multinational events, according to Peart.

"We don't discriminate in terms of nationality," he said. "It is simply about ability and experience. We have hired freelance interpreters from the United States, Canada and the EU region, but we also have some excellent native Chinese interpreters."

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answered 15 Oct '12, 08:45

Paris%20Si%20de%20Chine's gravatar image

Paris Si de ...

Hi Paris,

Thanks for the article and link - all very promising!


(19 Oct '12, 09:18) Louise

Zhang Yuchen's article (disclosure: I refused to be interviewed) is one of the very, very few articles in Chinese (or for that many world) media that more or less gets it right about our profession.

That said, "foreign interpreters" and "interpreters without Chinese" are two different things. What Tom Peart (disclosure: a personal friend) is talking about in your quotes is the former.

Daniel Glon is an interpreter who belongs to the latter. He doesn't have Chinese in his working combination (though conversationally, he speaks it). There are others - in the current AIIC list, you'll see one in Shanghai with English A, French B. And there have been others in the past.

Just to clarify.

(08 Jan '15, 10:13) William White
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question asked: 26 Sep '12, 04:38

question was seen: 5,640 times

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