In China, since 2002 all technical staff employed in a publishing enterprise engaged in “editing, publication,
proofreading and distribution . . . must obtain a National Publication Professional Qualification Certificate” (国家出版专业职业资格).
That sounds fairly reasonable in the China context where media is tightly managed for political correctness. But the reality is that in one sector in particular — enterprises that specialize in publishing in indigenous languages other than Mandarin, or books about the culture of ethnic minorities that require specialized knowledge of those cultures — the effect has been to severely limit the talent pool.
In a June 2 article at China Ethnic News (破除人才瓶颈), Qian Lihua (钱丽华) explains:
- The standardized qualification test — entirely in Chinese — is aimed at publication professionals nationwide and assumes a very high standard of written Chinese.
- In 2008, it was announced that exceptions could be made for those working in languages other than Chinese. However, specific regulations and tests or assessment standards have not been forthcoming.
- Many staff working in publishing houses are members of ethnic minorities initially educated in a non-Chinese mother tongue, regularly work in indigenous languages, and have often not had an opportunity for systematic training in Chinese.
Predictably, members of ethnic minorities who are part of the estimated 4,100-strong workforce in this sector of publishing are flunking the test in droves. Qian Lihua cites one striking statistic: Among 138 ethnic Koreans employed by three main publishers in Jilin Province, since 2002 just 5 have passed the exam and been certified. [Read more…]