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China and the language industry

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The Chinese LSP market is thriving. As the country continues to open its doors to more international trade and its economy continues to grow, the demand for language services increases. It’s an imperfect but exciting market not to be neglected, writes Kain Jagger, Sales and Marketing, Lan-Bridge.

The market size is about USD2.3 billion. As of June 2016, the number of the translation companies registered with China Industrial and Commercial Administration reached 7,469. According to a report issued in 2016, translation, interpreting, technical writing, DTP, website localization are the top 5 services. 36% of Chinese LSPs have 10 in-house staff or less. 18.18% of the translation companies’ gross profit margin is 45% to 55%. In addition to TAC (the governmental translation company association), there are non-governmental LSP clubs as well. Beginning from 2015, there have been more intra-industry activities and thanks to new cool technologies in the areas of MT and AI, the translation-related industry has become one of the most exciting for investors. 
 
The economic growth in China is enormous. Rapid cross-border E-commerce expansion and the national Belt & Road policy are two recent trends, which mean that more European companies will go to the Chinese market and more Chinese companies will sell their products to the world. It also means that English is not enough. In addition to Chinese-English demand, there is an increasing need for Chinese/English to multi language translation. 
However, the Chinese market isn’t just unique in size, it is also unique in certain cultural aspects. For example, its internet is in fact almost a giant intranet with its own unique platforms and online culture. Let’s take just one of these and look a bit closer at it. Many of you may have already heard of WeChat, because it is the largest and most commonly spoken about social media app in China. So let us look at the second biggest platform, Weibo. 
 
Weibo can be seen roughly as an equivalent of Twitter. However, once you look closely you’ll see that this analogy doesn’t hold for long. Weibo is better described as a Micro blogging website (which is what the word ‘Weibo’ [pronounced ‘way boar’ not ‘way bo’] means in Chinese). It has over 300 million users and was popular before WeChat even existed. 
 
Posts can – and often do- contain more characters than Twitter allows, and in general people use Weibo to post more pictures, emoticons and videos than users on Twitter do. However, like Twitter, Weibo does include hashtags and trending topics, so many of the posts can have the same ‘live’ feel that Twitter has. Learning how to use Weibo can be instructive of how content is localised in China more generally. 
 
How can you improve your understanding of the internet and online culture in China? Will Weibo be useful for understanding localisation? What about other Chinese social media? What opportunities and challenges do all these bring to you as a European LSP?   Does it mean that you will get more Chinese (both simplified and traditional Chinese) related projects?  In that case how can you find appropriate Chinese partners? Is it possible for you to get English to other European languages projects from Chinese colleagues or end clients? Is it easy and worthwhile for you to run a Rep office in China? Come to the ATC conference to find out!
 
Kain Jagger is co-presenting a paper with Yang Su, Managing Director of Talking China Language Services at the 2017 Language Industry Summit taking place in London 21/22 September.  You can register now to hear more about the expanding opportunities in China market and take advantage of the early-bird discounts by clicking HERE.
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