Exploring nation branding from a translation studies perspective
: translational insights in soft power research with special reference to China’s Belt and Road Initiative

  • Ye Tian

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


The discipline of translation studies has contributed to international relations research, with linguistic-bound examples focusing on cultural exchanges. In China, specific translation research projects feed into its “Going Out” foreign policy, exploring how translation facilitates telling China’s story. However, less explored is how translation studies can offer a conceptual framework for researching international affairs. To fill this gap, this thesis hopes to go beyond particular cases of linguistic exchange in international affairs and explore a more holistic approach to translation studies’ contribution to international relations. To this end, the thesis first takes a theoretical exploration approach. It explores the role of translation in culture and soft power, arguing that translation plays a central role in re-conceptualising both terms. This conceptual exploration highlights the explanatory power of the current enlarged notion of translation in research projects on international affairs. In addition, the thesis refers specifically to China’s Belt and Road Initiative. By exploring the “what”, “who”, and “how” of the initiative from a translation studies’ perspective, the thesis indicates that the nation branding of the Belt and Road Initiative is an example of eco-translation insofar as it is concerned with interpersonal, international, and human-environmental meaning-making and meaning-exchange processes. Finally, the thesis concludes that translation contributes to international relations as a knowledge, a method, and a meta-discipline in addressing issues like soft power and nation branding.

Thesis is embargoed until 31 July 2026.

Date of AwardJul 2023
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • Queen's University Belfast
SponsorsGreat Britain China Centre
SupervisorPiotr Blumczynski (Supervisor) & Chen-En Ho (Supervisor)


  • nation branding
  • translation theory
  • Belt and Road Initiative
  • China
  • soft power
  • interdisci

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