Du Zhanyuan (left), President of CIPG, and Lu Cairong, Vice President of CIPG, participate in a global online book launch ceremony in Beijing on March 10 (COURTESY PHOTO)
The London Book Fair 2020, one of the publishing industry's biggest international events of the year, was scheduled to take place at the Olympia London conference center on March 10, but due to the spread of the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Europe, the organizer had to announce its cancelation on March 4. Against this backdrop, China International Publishing Group (CIPG) held an online launch ceremony for new books on China's battle against the virus in Beijing to introduce the country's actions and practices to the world.
The group had already updated its theme for the book fair on February 28, focusing on books about China's all-out battle against COVID-19.
A day later, as the UK's first person-to-person transmission of the virus was confirmed, the fast-changing situation had potential book fair participants working out alternative plans yet again.
On March 5, after the fair was canceled, leaders of CIPG decided to hold a launch ceremony in Beijing and present it online to international readers and partners.
Some of the titles published by CIPG at the global online book launch ceremony (COURTESY PHOTO)
A race against time
The launch proved to be an innovative move with enormous support from CIPG's foreign counterparts.
"The achievements that the Chinese Government, the whole society and medical institutions have made need to be shared with Europe, America and the whole world," said Adam Marszalek, President of the Marszalek Publishing Group in Poland.
"It is very necessary to publish such books concerning China's efforts to defeat the epidemic," he said, adding that the Polish version of three of the books will come out soon in Europe in cooperation with two subsidiaries of CIPG, the Foreign Languages Press (FLP) and China Pictorial Press.
With the aim of providing detailed information and stories covering the measures adopted by Chinese governments at all levels, prevention and control work and international cooperation, seven publishers affiliated with CIPG started collecting materials and selecting topics since January 14. Ten books were published.
China, We Stand With You was released by New Star Press in English and Chinese and contains stories by 35 foreign experts from around the world working at CIPG. The FLP released two books in record time: China's Battle Against the Coronavirus: a Daily Log and Stories of Courage and Determination: Wuhan in Coronavirus Lockdown, which show the effect on people's daily lives and their responses, especially those in Wuhan, the epicenter of the outbreak in Hubei Province.
Over the past years, CIPG has made connections with publishers, translators and scholars from around the world through international cooperation on various projects. It has also set up dozens of overseas editorial offices. Foreign representatives were invited to participate in the online launch through video messages.
The international cooperation department of FLP started sending out messages to foreign counterparts on March 6, and got its first reply within three hours. Publishers and scholars from the UK, Poland, Albania and Romania had all sent video messages within 36 hours.
Martin Albrow, a British sociologist, speaks in a video message at CIPG's global online book launch ceremony (FILE)
Martin Albrow, a British sociologist and academician with the British Academy, said that "the whole world is astonished by China's determination to beat the COVID-19." The new books, he said, can now inform everyone about this determination and encourage the rest of the world.
"This is an example of how China can offer leadership at a time when the world is in desperate need of it," Albrow said in his video comments. "It so happens that misfortunes can bring the world together sometimes. This is a community of a shared future, a community in adversity. Of course, it shows how different cities in China and different people respond in different ways, so it is also, diversity in adversity."
President of Neptune Publications in Sri Lanka, Dinesh Kulatunga, who attended the Conference on Dialogue of Asian Civilizations in Beijing back in May 2019, has been deeply concerned about the Chinese during these difficult times. He said that China has the capacity and wisdom to respond to the worst situations. The two FLP books will be translated and published in Sri Lanka.
Kulatunga added that sharing knowledge and experience about the epidemic with the international community also demonstrates China's commitment to be a major country benefiting all.
During the launch ceremony, CIPG also announced it would allow foreign publishing houses to publish the books free.
Du Zhanyuan, President of CIPG, said the group "is willing to share the true stories that happened in China amid the epidemic, as well as contribute in its way to winning the battle in cooperation with the international community."
This is the responsibility that international communication professionals should undertake, he added.
Publishers from the Republic of Korea, Russia, Italy and many other countries have expressed their willingness to publish and distribute these books in various versions.
Copyedited by Rebeca Toledo
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