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U.S. author Laurence J. Brahm addresses the ceremony for initiating the writing of a new series of books in Beijing Language and Culture University on Dec. 4, 2018. [Photo courtesy of Wan Guosong from Chinese Culture Translation and Studies Support Network]

China is the subject of yet another book by U.S. author Laurence J. Brahm.He has written many books based on his experiences and understanding of China. Two of his most notable works, ‘China as No. 1' published in 1996, and ‘Searching for Shangri-La' published in 2008 were based on his experiences of being immersed in western China.

His new book forms part of the "Searching for China" series, currently being planned as part of the Writing on China by Foreigners project.

The project was launched worldwide by the Chinese Culture Translation and Studies Support Network (cctss.org) of the Beijing Language and Culture University (BLCU), in June 2016 under the guidance of the State Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film and Television of China.

It aims to find, fund and publish outstanding works on China by foreigners, including sinologists, authors, translators, professors, journalists, publishers, scholars and other noted public figures. Ultimately, it aims to promote the cultural communication between China and other countries.

Laurence J. Brahm was an obvious candidate for the project. Since his first visit to China, 37 years ago in 1981 as an exchange student, Brahm has been living and working in China.

He witnessed China's opening up to the world and actively engaged in China's economic reform as a legal consultant of international companies to China and created his own business in China. He has also shot documentaries and explored Chinese culture in western China.

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U.S. author Laurence J. Brahm addresses the ceremony for initiating the writing of a new series of books in Beijing Language and Culture University on Dec. 4, 2018. [Photo courtesy of Wan Guosong from Chinese Culture Translation and Studies Support Network]

The multi-talented author attended the ceremony for initiating the writing of the series of books in BLCU on Dec. 4."This project is important," Brahm said, speaking in fluent Chinese. "Books are good channels for international friends to know China, and books by western authors will help facilitate western readers' understanding of China."

He knows much about the differences in dialects and culture in different parts of China. Brahm, showcasing his knowledge in the business field, said that "a deal may fail if a person from northeast China is sent to negotiate business with a person from Shanghai or vice versa."

As a western author living in China, he processes both deep insights about China and an innate ability to translate these insights to western audiences.

He recalls the significant changes that China has experienced during the past four decades, "China was in material deprivation in 1981, and people needed to use grain coupons to buy grain, but now, much of what is made in the world is made in China".

But as well as focusing on China's significant economic progress, he also highlights the significance of popularizing Chinaese culture .This is what he focused on his earlier works such as ‘Searching for ‘Shangri-la' and his new book Searching for Shambhala.

For him, the word "Shambhala" means more than the literal Tibetan translation, which is a pure but secret land.

For Brahm, "Shambhala is a common concept for both China and neighboring countries in Asia, which invites us to pursue a better world together. This is in accordance with the concept of a community with a shared future for mankind, and from this aspect, many traditional values of China can be sourced".

The cultural efforts highlighted by Brahm is exactly what the Writing on China project has been working on over the past two years.

"We have witnessed significant achievements in the project of global influence over the past two years of implementation," says Nie Zhenning, chairman of Taofen Foundation China and former president of China Publishing Group.

At present, the project has already implemented its first and second phases successfully.

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Nie Zhenning, chairman of Taofen Foundation China and former president of China Publishing Group, addresses the ceremony for initiating the writing of a new series of books in Beijing Language and Culture University on Dec. 4, 2018. [Photo courtesy of Wan Guosong from Chinese Culture Translation and Studies Support Network]

According to Xu Baofeng, head of the cctss.org project and a professor at BLCU, the project has received more than 360 selected topics from publishing organizations and individuals. In addition to this, it has contacted more than 220 global publishing organizations, and funded the publication of 51 books, covering Chinese politics, economics, philosophy, literature and many other topics through novels, biographies, pictorials and many other genres.

Besides Brahm, writers who have also contributed works to the project include the Polish senior editor Izabella Kaluta, world-famous sinologist Wolfgang Kubin, Indian translation expert B. R. Deepak, philosopher and sociologist Daniel A. Bell, senior U.S. politician Stephen Orlins, and world-renowned political and economics commentator Robert Kuhn.

"By inviting foreign writers to write books in their own languages we can introduce China to overseas readers and the international community directly. We aim to break down communication barriers," Xu said.

Recently, cctss.org has begun accepting applications for the third phase of the project.

"After two years of implementation, the project now enjoys a popularity among international writers. With so many writing topics submitted, we need to select the best ones and emphasize implementation," said Nie.