Banned books on sale here: Hong Kong book fair will openly sell politically sensitive tomes

The annual event hopes to attract over a million visitors

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 19 July, 2016, 10:36pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 19 July, 2016, 10:58pm

Books banned in the mainland because of their politically sensitive content will be on sale as the 2016 Hong Kong Book Fair looks to attract over a million visitors.

Titles such as the four-volume Collected Works of Zhao Ziyang , to books detailing the events of the Cultural Revolution and tackling the subject of self-determination for Hong Kong, will be openly on sale at the event that begins today.

Benjamin Chau Kai-leung, deputy executive director of the Trade Development Council – the event’s organiser – said: “Hong Kong is a free and open place...no matter what political issues the books talk about, they can be sold at the book fair.”

A total of 640 bookstores and publishers took part in the fair this year, an increase of 9 per cent from last year.

Chau said he cannot predict the visitor turnout this year, as the weather will play an important role, but hopes more than a million people will attend.

Banned books hit headlines in Hong Kong recently when five associates from the Mighty Current publishing house and its Causeway Bay Books store – which specialised in books critical of the Chinese leadership – mysteriously went missing one after another last year.

The four-volume Collected Works of Zhao Ziyang was published by the Chinese University Press. Zhao, who became China’s premier in 1980 and the Communist Party’s general secretary in 1987, was considered the mastermind behind an ambitious blueprint for democratic reform that called for, among other changes, separating the party and the state.

The books gather more than 2,000 pages of his internal speeches and letters. A Chinese University Press staff said an “academic perspective” was used in deciding which books to publish.

Author Lam Hong-ching will have 2,000 books about self-determination of Hong Kong for sale at publisher Subculture’s stall.

“I support independence for Hong Kong. A lot of people have also started to support self-determination to decide whether the city should become an independent place,” he said.

Another publisher, Sun Effort, will be selling books poking fun at not just Hong Kong’s officials, but also people who are ignorant or apathetic of current issues in the city. Its editor Ivan Cheung Chun-pong hoped the books will raise political awareness among nonchalant people in Hong Kong.

On a wider scale, the 27th instalment of the annual book fair will also carry a theme for the first time: Chinese martial arts literature. Books, manuscripts and newspaper cuttings from as far back as the 1960s will be on display. The fair will run till July 26 at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre.