All eyes on China at book fair

xinhuanet.com 21-Apr-2012

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Two visitors at the Chinese seal exhibition in London. (Source:China Daily)

by Mei Jia in London

BEIJING, Apr. 16 (Xinhuanet) -- Chinese culture is taking central stage and market focus at the 2012 London Book Fair, which opens on Monday.

The book fair, one of the largest in the world, started its market-focus program in 2004, and since 2008, has partnered with the British Council to concentrate on emerging markets.

"I'm looking forward to meeting many of the Chinese authors who are coming over," the event's director, Alistair Burtenshaw, told Xinhua News Agency.

Burtenshaw is certain to be happy about the large size of the Chinese writers' delegation this year, said Joanna Burke, the culture and education counselor for the British embassy and British Council China director.

The fair's Market Focus launch on Sunday marked three days of meetings between the 21 Chinese writers and their established British counterparts on various topics, 11 exhibitions, 10 professional forums and seminars, and, of course, book launches.

The first Chinese event to be unveiled was an exhibition of original and up-to-date creations of Chinese seals and calligraphy by artist Luo Pengpeng at the Royal College of Art on Saturday.

Pre-fair events also included a China-UK forum on investment in the publishing industry, and a meeting between Chinese delegation leaders and 20 CEOs of major publishers and media groups.

Minister of General Administration of Press and Publication Liu Binjie said the Chinese side highly valued the chance to present 300 events at the fair by 180 Chinese publishers and organizations.

"The 3,000 Chinese titles translated into English will leave a unique imprint on the UK and voice for the world to hear," Liu said.

"We also hope the fair brings greater mutual understanding and strengthens the friendship between Britain and China," Liu said.

Joanna Burke, of the British Council, told China Daily: "The British public is very aware of the importance of China's emergence as a world power and their interest in Chinese language and culture has never been higher.

"China has a rapidly developing literary scene and with the world's second-largest economy and one of the largest publishing markets in the world, China is also a crucial publishing market."

Burtenshaw said that "China is the world's largest market by volume, and one of the most important book industries in the world that is very distinctive".

He added that more than 100 Chinese publishers are represented at the book fair.

Each year, the London Book Fair welcomes publishers from around 110 countries and regions, and 25,000 publishers, booksellers and literary agents.

"There will be wonder opportunities for them to engage with Chinese publishers and Chinese authors," he said.

London bookstore owner Michael Sheringham is also seeking to promote Chinese literature, especially contemporary work. His bookstore is organizing Chinese-themed events at the fair.

"I can only say that we are trying to increase people's awareness of Chinese literature and get them to read more of it," he said.

Sheringham hopes the Market Focus events will cause a change of scene, as more and more contemporary works have been translated in the past five years.

"Literature is one way for foreigners to get to know, understand and follow what people are experiencing and even thinking in China today. It is a bridge, as well as a cultural pleasure," he added.

(Source: China Daily)