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Spanish couple's book details centuries-old China-Spain exchanges


The year 2023 marked the 50th anniversary of diplomatic relations between China and Spain. Throughout their history, the two nations have enjoyed robust and cordial exchanges. The newly published book "Spain-China, Five Centuries of Concord" by Spanish sociologist couple Miguel Sazatornil and Maria Cruz Alonso, provides a comprehensive account of past exchanges between China and Spain, covering such diverse areas as literature, shipping, trade, politics, economics, diplomacy, customs, finance and the arts.


The book's authors, Miguel Sazatornil and Maria Cruz Alonso, have lived in Shanghai for more than 20 years and have made significant contributions to cultural exchanges between the two countries. With their extensive knowledge and understanding of the people of both nations, they were able to complete the book in just three months.

"Through this book, we aim to present readers with a lesser-known segment of world history. The relationship between Spain and China over five centuries reveals a significant fact that two great nations, not present-day Spain but the Spanish Empire of centuries ago, could coexist peacefully without frequent wars," said Miguel.

Spain and China are both nations that possess splendid cultures, with numerous books written on the subject respectively. However, there are very few books dedicated to previous interactions and exchanges between the two. Chen Shenglai, chairman of International Institute of Cultural Studies – Shanghai, believes that this book roundly reflects the history of communication between China and Spain from a broad perspective.

The newly published book
The newly published book "Spain-China, Five Centuries of Concord" by the Spanish sociologist couple, Miguel Sazatornil and Maria Cruz Alonso /CGTN

The newly published book "Spain-China, Five Centuries of Concord" by the Spanish sociologist couple, Miguel Sazatornil and Maria Cruz Alonso /CGTN

The book is bilingual in both Chinese and Spanish. "This 100,000-word document perfectly presents the 500-year history of exchanges between China and Spain. The sheer number of historical figures and sources mentioned is truly astonishing. As a result, to make it easier for Chinese readers to read and understand the book, we have included more than 100 footnotes that do not appear in the original Spanish text," said Chen Zhi, the book's Chinese translator.

The book contains a wide range of historical content, including many captivating and lesser-known details about the shared history of the two countries. And the way the information is presented enables readers to develop a more profound understanding of the interrelationship between history and culture. Among them is a story related to Cervantes.

"Cervantes said in 'Don Quixote' that the emperor of China asked him for a book. Of course, this was only his imagination. It didn't really happen. The emperor probably did not know of Cervantes' existence and did not ask him for a book. However, this example is interesting because he believed that China was a very important country, so he said that the emperor asked him for a book," said Maria Cruz Alonso.

China and Spain both boast rich historical and cultural legacies. The two countries have benefited from strong and friendly interactions throughout their history. In modern times, these cultural interchanges continue to flourish. "Cultural exchange is the foundation of communication between two countries. We say that in order to build a community with a shared future for mankind, first and foremost, a shared cultural and spiritual home of outstanding quality should be established," said Chen Shenglai.

"Only by sharing and working in harmony can we enjoy peace and concord. The best way for people's hearts to communicate is through cultural exchanges," he added.

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