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Russian Translators in China Die in Quick Succession During COVID-19 Outbreak

Two renowned Russian-to-Chinese translators in China recently died from COVID-19 as the coronavirus sweeps through the country.

Long-time translators Lou Ziliang and Wang Zhiliang died in the first week of 2023.

Both men had translated large amounts of Soviet and Russian literature.

Their deaths come as observers have noted that China’s recent COVID-19 outbreak has resulted in the deaths of many scientists, scholars, and celebrities, most of whom were members of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) or people who stood up for the CCP.

Lou Ziliang

In the early morning of Jan. 4, Lou, a member of the Shanghai Translators Association and associate editor of Shanghai Translation Publishing House, died at the age of 90.

Lou’s major works include “The Complete Poems of Brodsky (Volume 1)”, “War and Peace”, “Ghosts”, “Dead Souls”, “Humiliated and Insulted”, “The Selected Poems of Tsvetaeva”, and various works of Dostoevsky, etc.

His eulogy stated that he attended Harbin Russian College as a national defense student when he was young. This college was later merged with several other foreign language colleges to become Heilongjiang University in 1958.

Lou’s eulogy also stated that in 1978, he joined the Shanghai Translation Publishing House to compile the “Encyclopedia of Philosophy”, but after the first volume was published, the project ceased. Lou left China to start a business in the Soviet Union at that time out of frustration.

As his business grew, the CCP invited him to return to China, so he left his business and returned to China to work as a Russian translator.

He would work for the Shanghai Translation Publishing House, which according to its website, was established in 1978. Since then, it has been endorsing the CCP’s publishing policies and has been honored by the Propaganda Department of the CCP Central Committee. Lou worked loyally for the publishing house to promote CCP propaganda.

Wang Zhiliang

On Jan. 2, 2023, Wang, another well-known Russian-to-Chinese translator, died at the age of 94 at the Shanghai Jiaotong University Hospital.

He was well-known as a Chinese foreign language expert, translator, novelist, Professor of the Chinese Department of East China Normal University, a member of the Chinese Writers’ Association, and a member of the CCP.

Wang was born in 1928 and enrolled in the Law School of Peking University in 1947; in 1949, he was one of the 30 students selected by Peking University to study Russian in Harbin, and in 1952, he graduated from the university’s Russian department.

Wang was the first translator of Pushkin’s masterpiece “Eugene Onegin” into poetic form in Chinese, and he translated more than 30 works, including “The Captain’s Daughter” and “Anna Karenina”.

Wang was also persecuted in 1957 when he was branded as “right-wing” during the CCP’s anti-rightist movement. At that time, he was sent to Hebei Province to work in labor camps, where he once attempted suicide. He did hard labor during the day and continued his translation work at night.

Communist Literature

In an article published in February 2022, the Chinese website China Writer stated that the concept of Russian literature has its own specific connotations and extensions. It includes pre-Soviet Russian literature, as well as the Soviet literature of the USSR and also the literature of Russia since it became an independent state.

Much of the Chinese communist literature refers to modern Russian literature as “Soviet Russian literature”. The promotion of Russian and Soviet literature by the CCP at that time was a part of its agenda to align itself with the largest communist country in the world, the Soviet Union. Such Soviet nostalgia still exists today in the CCP’s state propaganda.

Jessica Mao

Jessica Mao is a writer for The Epoch Times with a focus on China-related topics. She began writing for the Chinese-language edition in 2009.

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