Lifestyle & Belief

London Book Fair only features Chinese authors approved by the government, dissident says


Chinese visitors look at a statue of Kim Jong Il during an art fair in Beijing, on May 6, 2007.


Teh Eng Koon

Exiled writer Bei Ling, head of the Independent Chinese Pen club, accused organizers of the London Book Fair of bowing to the Chinese government. The theme of the London Book Fair this year is Chinese literature. But all of the authors selected have been approved by Chinese communist authorities, with no dissident voices, BBC News reported.

More from GlobalPost: Promises, pitfalls await investors in Burma’s frontier economy

"It doesn't include any independent voice, they are cleaning us away," Bei Ling told the BBC.

The London Book Fair, in its 41st year, is one one of the world's top three book fairs, China Daily reported. It will feature more than 600 publishers and 57 writers this year.

But Bei Ling told the BBC that he is shocked by the line-up. He was also disturbed that the fair organizers admitted to cooperating with General Administration of Press and Publications in China, which censors Chinese media. 

Bei Ling suggested that the fair organizers invite dissident writers such as Nobel laureate Gao Xingjian, who is now exiled in Paris. The organizers responded in a statement to the BBC: "We appreciate Bei Ling getting in touch. We chose to engage with China and we are hugely excited with the wide-ranging professional and cultural programme that will be presented."

Bei Ling himself was disinvited from the Frankfurt Book Fair, DW.DE reported. He has previously been arrested for his writings, the Los Angeles Times reported

The English Pen club also told the BBC that they are unhappy with the current London Book Fair. "We didn't want to endorse that official list of writers at the expense of writers who have not been invited," Pen's assistant director Sarah Hesketh said.