On June 8, just one day before the 18th Meeting of the Council of Heads of Member States of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) commences in Qingdao, a coastal city in China’s eastern Shandong Province, Zhang Chen, a volunteer from Qingdao University of Science and Technology, demonstrated to reporters at the summit’s media center how a white multilingual handset works.
“This equipment is called YeeBox, with which users can translate his voice into six languages including English, Russian, Mongolian, Persian and Hindi,” she grinned. “All one needs to do is to press a button, and the gadget can connect to a multilingual call center, where interpreters translate in real time what the user said into any of the six languages he or she chose.”
The YeeBox and the multilingual call center are provided by Global Tone Communication Technology Co., Ltd. (GTCOM), the official language services provider for the SCO Qingdao summit.
The summit brings together guests from SCO member states such as India, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Pakistan, Russia, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan and observer countries including Afghanistan, Belarus, Iran and Mongolia. Language services are vital for them to cross language barriers and communicate better with each other during the summit.
According to Wang Xiaodong, vice president of GTCOM, more than 200 sets of such equipment have been deployed at places like the railway station, airport, customs, and venues for the SCO summit. “If necessary, more YeeBoxes will be deployed to provide real-time interpretation services,” he added. Besides the YeeBox, they also provide a kind of AI-based translation machine that can automatically provide interpretation services in 35 languages.
At the multilingual call center for the SCO summit that is located at the Qingdao Hi-tech Industrial Development Zone, dozens of interpreters are busy answering calls that pour in via the YeeBox. “We have about 200 interpreters working for the SCO summit at the call center,” Wang said. “Some of them are teachers from colleges and universities. They work in three shifts around the clock. Currently, we handle hundreds of calls daily, and the number is expected to rocket up when the two-day summit begins.”
The Qingdao summit, which runs from June 9 to 10, occurs at a time when the world is in need of concerted action to address challenges and threats ranging from regional conflicts to spreading terrorism, from populism to unilateralism, and must advance economic globalization and improve global governance to benefit all. To this end, many representatives at the event will voice their support for closer partnership under the SCO framework. It is interpreters, whether on-site or remote, who help make their voice heard by more.