These two Chinese-language tomes have not, to the best of my knowledge, been translated into English:
The Little Train that Traveled Afar: The Century-old Yunnan-Vietnam Railway (远去的小火车：滇越铁路 100 年) documents the history of the railway the French designed to link Indochina’s Haiphong with Kunming in southwest China, with a colonialist’s eye on Yunnan’s tin. Lots of black-and-white pix and factoids too: completed in 1910, the railway was China’s premier international rail-link; lacking sufficient labor in Yunnan for this massive project that snaked through mountainous terrain and required 173 bridges, the French imported ‘migrant workers’ from as far away as Hebei and Shandong; thanks to Siemens equipment shipped in via Vietnam, Yunnan was the first province in China to have its very own hydropower plant; and a slew of imports from Indochina in the early part of the 20th century equipped some towns in Yunnan—known today for its relative impoverishment—with running water, movie theaters, telephones, automobiles and French-style hospitals at a time when much of the interior of China had few of these amenities.
I’ve only just started The Secret History of the Mongols (蒙古秘史), annotated by Yu Dajun (余大钧) and published by Hebei People’s Publishing House (河北人民出版社). This is an annotated rendering in modern Chinese of a late 14th century text (<元朝秘史>, Yuáncháo mìshǐ) consisting of Chinese characters that were themselves a phonetic transcription of a (now-lost) Mongolian text in a Uighur script.
Famous Sinologists in the West, such as Paul Pelliot and Arthur Waley, tried their hand at translating the transliterated text. According to Yu Dajun’s introduction, translations of the 282-chapter text are now also available in modern Mongolian (Cyrillic), Japanese, Russian, German, French, Hungarian, English, Turkish and Czech. Besides his own translation, Yu Dajun’s volume includes another full translation into Chinese set down in the early Ming Dynasty (<明初音写、译注本 《元朝秘史》总译>). However, nowhere in Yu Dajun’s work will one find a copy of the original transliteration (see 1908 edition, below), or any commentary on it in Mongolian. Which is a bit odd, since the original text is Mongolian, albeit in Chinese characters.
According to Wikipedia, “The ‘Secret History’ is regarded as the single significant native Mongolian account of Genghis Khan. Linguistically, it provides the richest source of pre-classical Mongolian and Middle Mongolian. . . and is regarded as a piece of classic literature in both Mongolia and the rest of the world.”
Currently popular Chinese historical novels, like The Legend of Mongolia (蒙古往事) by Ran Ping (冉平), and histories like Genghis Khan (成吉思汗) edited by Zhang Jialin (张家林) and Li Guofang (李国防) widely quote The Secret History of the Mongols, but we are never told which version they are citing: their own rendering of the reconstructed Mongolian text transliterated in Chinese (at left)? A translation done during the Yuan or the Ming Dynasties, when excellent Mongolian scholars were likely in plentiful supply? One of several 20th-century renditions, such as Yu Dajun’s?
The answer is important because no definitive text has survived in Mongolian, and therefore the Chinese-language version is, for Chinese readers at least, an authoritative window into the Mongolian world. But there are actually several translations into Chinese, each giving a unique description of Genghis Khan and the ancient Mongol tribes who eventually ruled China for a century. This leaves today’s Chinese authors, screen writers and historians free to choose whichever one best suits the image they wish to portray.