The Chartered Institute of Purchasing and Supply (CIPS) is a British organisation established to promote best practice in the purchasing and supply profession. The Institute offers a range of training and certification programmes for qualifications in this field, and in 2004 launched the first of these in China. After running a pilot programme in early spring, CIPS then rolled out an initial two programmes to a student community in different locations around China, and an increasing number of students are now seeking CIPS’ world-recognised qualifications.

An integral part of the success of this project was the requirement for faithful translations, not only of the exam papers into Chinese, but of the students’ written answers into English – a critical part of the moderating process in the early stages of the Chinese programme. To do this, CIPS approached Asian Absolute, a translation agency specialising in Asian languages.

The CIPS project came with an unusual translation brief that allowed Asian Absolute to demonstrate its flexibility and expertise. To begin with, translation of the questions themselves had to ensure that each Chinese paper maintained exactly the same level of difficulty as its English counterpart, maintaining 100% accuracy in terminology and, in some cases, coining industry-specific phrases in Chinese. In the second phase, when translating candidate papers back into English, translators were instructed to reflect the tone and expression of students’ replies in order to give the moderators a better impression of each student’s ability and style.

Now on its third round of examinations in China, CIPS has expanded its programme to cover all levels of certification, from Foundation to Professional, and is pleased at the growing number of students that they are taking on in China, a country which is rapidly becoming one of the world’s leading suppliers of manufactured goods – purchasing and supply has a good future in China.

15 December 2005