Jim Brown (interpreter)

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Jim Brown (born 1953) is a senior diplomat in the U.S. Diplomatic Service.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, accompanied by longtime Chinese translator James Brown, stand in front of the South Gate to Beihai Park and look at Bai Ta, or the White Pagoda, at Beihai Park in Beijing, China

Brown was born in Washington D.C. as the son of a U.S. diplomat, and studied history and international relations at the Fu Jen University in Taiwan before becoming a consultant for Pan-American Airlines in the late 1970s.[1] In 1980, he was hired by the U.S. Department of Defense, and joined the U.S. State Department the following year. Although admitting that he wanted to be a "generalist", the government considered his proficiency in the Chinese language to be an asset as China reopened its once-closed gate to the world at that time, and assigned Brown to multiple tenures at the U.S. Embassy in Beijing. Brown remarked that his proficiency in the Chinese language had caught locals off-guard.[1]

Brown's languages include Cantonese, French, Japanese, and Korean, but is best known for his knowledge of the Mandarin language.[1] Benda Sprauge, then the State Department's Director of Language Services, explained that the ability to perform consecutive and simultaneous translation during formal diplomatic and senior-level functions was the highest level of language expertise, but that "At Jim's level, there is only one Jim". [2]


  1. ^ a b c Mong, Adrienne. "'Mystery' interpreter reveals disappearing act". NBC News. Retrieved 8 April 2017.
  2. ^ Mong, Adrienne. "Mystery Mandarin expert is one of a kind". NBC News. Retrieved 8 April 2017.