BEIJING, China (SCMP): The Chinese woman who trended on social media as "China's most beautiful interpreter", always dreamed of being a diplomat and was noted for her looks – even in high school, say former teachers and classmates.
Zhang Jing dazzled the world with her calm and accurate translation of China's State Councillor Yang Jiechi's 15-minute remarks at the China-US Alaska summit.
Zhang, who is in her late 30s, has always been a persistent, focused person who knew at a very young age what she wanted for her career, according to her high school English teacher.
"She was determined to be a diplomat since junior high school and wanted to work in the diplomatic service in the future," Hu Yuebing from Hangzhou Foreign Languages School told the Metropolis Express in 2013.
"She had excellent grades in her three years of high school and was able to enter comprehensive universities such as Peking University and Tsinghua University (two top universities in China), however, she chose to continue pursuing her diplomatic dream and was admitted to the China Foreign Affairs University with an exemption of entrance exams."
Hu said Zhang excelled in all subjects, particularly in English and had won a scholarship to travel to the United Kingdom where she developed a close friendship with a local student.
"She could have deep discussions with others within a short period of 10 days. Isn't her English marvellous?" Hu asked.
While much attention was focused on Zhang's physical appearance online, many praised her calm and unwavering translation of more than 2,000 words during what had at times been a tense diplomatic summit.
This included US Secretary of State Antony Blinken. When one participant at the meeting said Yang's lengthy speech would be "a test for the interpreter", Blinken said: "We're going to give the translator a raise," which drew laughter.
"The senior translator Zhang Jing, with her calm, complete and accurate translation, fully demonstrated the style of the diplomatic staff of a big power in the new era. Wisdom. She integrated talent and beauty. Thumbs up!" said one user of Weibo.
"This is not ordinary translation, but on-site interpretation. It marks the highest level in the field of foreign language learning and it tests not English, but also comprehensive abilities such as Chinese, shorthand, comprehension, and quick response. I majored in English language and passed the test of English majors level 8 (highest level for English majors) and I just want to kneel down and worship after listening to her translation," said another Internet user.
One former classmate, identified only with the family name Xi, told the newspaper that Zhang was good at everything and was known for her confidence and resemblance to actress Zhao Weil.
Xi said Zhang was known for her serious, calm look on the job, but she was very outgoing among classmates, who called her "little Zhao Wei" in high school for her big eyes and resemblance to the famous actress.
"She is good at sports and volleyball is her favourite. She is outstanding in singing, dancing and hosting events, and paints well," Xi said. – South China Morning Post