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Wednesday, 23 May, 2001, 11:14 GMT 12:14 UK
Tintin conquers China
Belgian Foreign Minister Louis Michel
Louis Michel raises a glass to Tintin in Chinese
The first legal version of Tintin's adventures has been unveiled in China - decades after pirate copies first appeared.

Belgian Foreign Minister Louis Michel and the Chinese Minister of Culture Sun Jiazheng launched the comic books in Beijing on Tuesday.

Praising the Belgian cartoon hero, who will be known as Dingding in Chinese, Michel paid tribute to his popularity.

"Tintin is Belgium's most famous ambassador in the entire world," he said, adding that General de Gaulle himself considered Tintin his only real competitor.

Tintin and Snowy
Tintin: Back in the spotlight
Pirated copies of Tintin books, printed in rough black and white, have been in circulation in China since the 1980s and have become collectors items.

The new editions are more closely modelled on the originals, using similar layout and style, but certain adaptations were necessary.

Tintin in Tibet has become Tintin in Chinese Tibet, to reflect Beijing's claim that Tibet is part of China.

And the Chinese publishers - China Children Publishing House - have decided not to market Tintin in the Land of the Soviets, deeming it anti-communist.


Boy reporter Tintin did go to China in The Blue Lotus, in 1936.

In that book, he battled with Japanese-funded opium smugglers, aided by a young Chinese called Chang.

Unlike other Tintin characters, Chang was modelled on a real person - the late Chinese artist Chang Chong-jen, who helped Tintin creator Hergé to portray China realistically.

Chang and The Blue Lotus provided thousands of young Europeans with their first taste of China.

"Hergé wished to defeat some of the clichés that were circulating among Europeans at that time," said Tintin publisher Jacques Simon.

Georges Remi
Tintin creator Georges Remi
Chang's daughter Zhang Feifei went further in saying that Hergé showed the stark realities of Chinese suffering at the hands of Japanese aggressors.

Tintin and his dog Snowy made their first appearance in 1929 as a comic strip in Belgian newspaper Le Petit Vingtieme.

Hergé - whose real name was Georges Remi - launched Tintin into scores of adventures over the next 20 years.


Translating Tintin into Chinese has been an enormous task.

Tompson and Tompson have become Dubang and Dubang and Snowy is Baixue, but that was the easy part.

Tintin's friend Captain Haddock's salty swearing was a particularly tough job said Tintin translator Lu Xiao.

He added that the deliberately primitive language - often criticised as racist - of the Africans in Tintin in the Congo was simply untranslatable.

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See also:

29 Nov 98 | Europe
Crazy for Tintin
10 Jan 99 | Entertainment
Tintin's 70 years of adventure
04 Feb 99 | Entertainment
Tintin on trial
14 Feb 01 | Entertainment
Lewd Tintin shocks Belgium
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