The LITAO approach
to high-profile interpretation.

The Lithuanian Minister of Culture visited Shanghai to discuss cooperation with representatives of five major Chinese cultural stakeholders, including Shanghai vice-mayor Weng Tiehui. Lina served as a diplomatic interpreter between the two cultural delegations in a series of meetings, both formal and informal, in 2016.

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Client’s Challenge
  • - Official delegation from Lithuanian Ministry of Culture visits China to discuss cooperation with five of Shanghai’s biggest cultural stakeholders.
  • - Only have one day to make a lasting impression on the Chinese.
  • - China is already saturated with global cultural performance options, so how can a small Eastern European country stand out?
Litao’s Solution
  • - Direct Lithuanian-to-Chinese interpreter (instead of going through intermediary of English) to show Lithuanians’ seriousness in learning Chinese culture and working with the Chinese.
  • - Advised Lithuanian Minister of Culture to speak only in Lithuanian to showcase the uniqueness of his native language.
  • - Researched stakeholders’ names/titles/backgrounds and prepared targeted communication points.
The Outcomes
  • - Participants voiced mutual positive impressions and memories after meeting.
  • - Turned “high-level people-to-people dialogue,” as the Chinese officially call it, into friendly relations for long-term future collaboration.
  • - As of 2016 - 2017, China has become the hottest destination for Lithuanian artists.
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The Lithuanian cultural delegation included not just the Minister of Culture, but also the heads of Lithuanian national ballet, opera, theater, and art galleries. Shanghai as a major metropolis has its choice of international arts productions, so any potential collaborations would be based on a sense of rapport and camaraderie. In fact, this was why Lina was there: to show that a native Lithuanian could speak high-level Chinese as a nod of cultural respect. Since direct Lithuanian-Chinese professional interpreters are rare, most delegations communicate through the common medium of English. The Chinese side had English translators in place, but as this was a meeting of cultural stakeholders, it seemed essential to allow the Lithuanians as well, especially the cultural minister, to speak directly from their culture: their language. Prior to the meetings, we had already researched the delegation’s communication points along with the latest cultural trends in Shanghai and Lithuania, learned the finer points of diplomatic versus informal language, and dove into the details of each meeting participant’s background to be ready to address each one with the proper respect and title.

Key Takeaways:


By allowing the Lithuanian minister and Chinese vice-mayor to both speak their native tongues, by having a Lithuanian to translate into fluent high-level Chinese and vice versa—LITAO enabled both sides to pay the ultimate cultural respect. In 2016, China has become the largest market of Lithuanian cultural products, especially theater. Cultural collaborations between countries take years in the making, but they all start with the mutual respect and friendship laid in place here. Even the formal meetings had a friendly tone, as Lina explained beyond the meanings of official statements to relate to each country’s culture. The Lithuanian Minister of Culture himself commented about her work, “It is a luxury to have an interpreter who understands context.”