In July, a group of Republican and Democratic congressmen introduced the Open Translation and Analysis Center Authorization Act. This legislation establishes a new Federally Funded Research and Development Center called the Open Translation and Analysis Center (OTAC).
OTAC would be charged with translating important open source foreign-language material from the People’s Republic of China, Russia, and other countries of strategic interest into English. The translated material would be available on a public website, serving as a key resource for the U.S. and allied governments, media outlets, and academicians and analysts around the world.
The bill was introduced by Democratic congressmen Joaquin Castro and Bill Keating, and Republican congressmen Mike Gallagher and Brian Fitzpatrick. “By translating foreign-language materials into English and making them publicly available, the Open Translation and Analysis Center will enhance America and its allies’ ability to compete on the world stage, while also serving as a tremendous resource for academicians, journalists, and other members of civil society,” said Rep. Castro.
OTAC got its idea from the Foreign Broadcast Information Service (FBIS), which was created during World War II to intercept, translate, and publish broadcasts from the axis powers. The documents were regularly distributed to war agencies.
Ryan Fedasiuk, an analyst from Georgetown’s Center for Security and Emerging Technology (CSET), told Radio Free Asia, “Many Chinese companies, non-profit organizations and government agencies deliberately hide information, assuming that foreigners do not know Chinese.”
In May Fedasiuk co-authored a report titled “China’s Foreign Technology Wish List,” which analyzed the 642 reports filed by the S&T directorates of Chinese embassies and consulates from 2015 to 2020. He noted, “These are Chinese language materials. The Chinese government or some agencies can talk openly and freely in Chinese about topics that they would never dare to discuss in English.”
Source: Radio Free Asia, August 16, 2021