QUITO, May 31 (Xinhua) — Ecuadorian writer Veronica Bonilla has received the Special Book Award for 2021, the highest recognition by China for a foreign writer.
At an emotional ceremony held Monday at the Chinese embassy in Ecuador, Bonilla received a golden statuette for her outstanding contribution to promoting Chinese culture.
“I feel happy, honored and pleased to be the first Ecuadorian to receive this award and also to be the first Latin American to receive it. It is a very important thing, it fills me with pride and happiness,” said Bonilla, visibly moved.
“I am writing about China, a country that I fell in love with when I had the opportunity to get to know it because I want the children of the world to get to know China,” Bonilla said, adding that all the work and effort she has put into her work pays off.
Bonilla won the award for her richly-illustrated book “Platanario en China” published in 2019.
The book, based on Bonilla’s visit to China in 2016, combines calligraphy, zodiac, Chinese shadow theater, opera and other aspects of Chinese culture, through the journey undertaken by Platanario, an extraterrestrial character who finds himself in a number of works by the prolific author.
The China Special Book Award has been awarded since 2005 to foreign translators, writers and publishers who have made significant contribution to promoting Chinese culture in the world.
An official ceremony was held in Beijing on Sept. 14, 2021 to present the awards to 15 recipients from 14 countries. Ecuadorian ambassador to China, Carlos Larrea, received the award on Bonilla’s behalf because the COVID-19 pandemic made it difficult for her to travel to the Chinese capital city.
Monday’s ceremony in Quito was attended by Chinese Ambassador to Ecuador Chen Guoyou, and Acting Ecuadorian Vice Foreign Minister Augusto Saa.
Saa said that Bonilla’s work is an example of the value of culture as a means of union between peoples. “Our countries have managed to develop an active cultural diplomacy and a powerful soft power tool that has contributed to mutual understanding.”
Larrea, the Ecuadorian ambassador to China, said in an online speech that the award won by Bonilla has become “a significant achievement of cultural exchange” between Ecuador and China, adding that an opera based on “Platanario en China” will be staged in cooperation with the National Children’s Theater of China.
In addition, an agreement has been reached with the Cervantes Institute in Beijing on a similar staging in Spanish.
In congratulation, Chinese Ambassador Chen Guoyou said that Bonilla received the well-deserved award thanks to her long-term dedication to promoting Chinese culture to Ecuadorian children.
“Recent years have witnessed the growing dynamism in the cultural exchange between the two nations through contacts in culture, science, technology, sports, education, among others,” Chen said, noting that relations between China and Ecuador “are at the best moment in history.”
The Ecuadorian writer has so far translated three of her 83 books into Chinese.