Giuliano Bertuccioli. Diplomat and Orientalist.

giuliano bertuccioli

Giuliano Bertuccioli was a fine Orientalist and one of the most renowned Italian sinologists. He was born in  Rome on 26 January 1923. Received a degree in Chinese and Law during WWII He then joined the diplomatic service in 1950 taking care of the closing down of the Italian Embassy in Nanjin and its reopening in Beijing, he was working there as a interpreter at the Italian Embassy in Beijing. In 1953 he landed in Hong Kong and remained here until 1960. Bertuccioli was fluent in Chinese, Japanese, French, German, English and also Korean. Between 1960 and 1962, he was nominated President of the Oriental Department of the Giorgio Cini Foundation in Venice. In 1962 he was sent to Tokyo, where he remained six years. He alternated diplomatic service with teaching and publishing. In 1966 he was appointed Ambassador to South Korea, then Vietnam – North and South – and finally to the Philippines. He wrote several books on the Orient which are still read and studied. at . He died in Rome in 2001.

Bertuccioli had many stories to tell but one in particular gives an idea of his wonderful and deep humanity. It is an amusing account regarding his misinterpretation of the ruling against a fellow Italian, who had been sentenced to death by the Chinese Communist authorities in 1952. Bertuccioli had wrongly translated that the prisoner had been acquitted, informing Rome by cable of the judgement. As Chinese authorities were about to execute the condemned man by firing squad, Bertuccioli confessed his mistake and the Chinese, not wanting him to ‘lose face’, overturned the sentence and set the Italian free. Bertuccioli often recalled this youthful mistranslation with great satisfaction.

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