The China Pavilion attracts visitors at the BookExpo America event (YAN PEI)
China has accomplished an economic and developmental miracle over a few short decades--growth that has taken other nations centuries to achieve--yet many still wonder what the future holds for the 1.3 billion citizens of the world's most populous country and its political leadership. To that end, a historic compilation of Chinese President Xi Jinping's speeches has been translated into eight foreign languages in a unique and revealing glimpse into the path toward achieving the Chinese Dream.
"We have already got in our hands a good blueprint. What we should do is to follow it through to the end and make it a success," writes President Xi in one of the selections included in Xi Jinping: The Governance of China.
"In recent years, China has made great strides in many fields, so the world is increasingly focused on the historic and profound changes taking place in China," said Chinese Ambassador to the United States Cui Tiankai at a May 28 symposium celebrating the U.S. launch of the book, which sold more than 4.5 million copies globally in its first six months of publication. "In what direction will the new Chinese leaders steer the great vessel of China, and how? How will China transform its economic growth model and respond to challenges in economy, resources, energy and the environment? How will China address the key issues of distribution of wealth and social justice?"
The world is looking for answers to these questions, said Cui--answers that are clear and to the point. The book was an instant success. A picture of Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg with a copy of the book on his desk went viral, and Time magazine advised readers that it was the book to read prior to President Xi's U.S. visit in September.
"It's a new window to the world on contemporary China," the ambassador said.
The book is the first to be published by a sitting Chinese President and compiles 79 items consisting of speeches, interviews, correspondence and missives in a 516-page collection with helpful notes on Chinese history and culture. Editions have been published in English, French, Russian, Arabic, Spanish, Portuguese, German and Japanese. In many ways, the book's success is testament to the success of the Chinese publishing industry and the global interest in Chinese titles. The symposium on the U.S. launch of the book was the highlight of the three-day BookExpo America (BEA), which concluded on May 28 at New York's Jacob K. Javits Center.
"In China we are eager to explain ourselves to the world, to tell our story to the international audience for more understanding and cooperation," said Huang Youyi, former Vice President of China International Publishing Group (CIPG), at the symposium.
China was the guest of honor at the BEA, which attracts book industry professionals and publishing agencies from over 80 countries. Previous honorees include Spain, Italy, Russia and Mexico. The expo is known as the world's largest event in English-language publishing and includes symposiums, exhibitions, forums, literary salons and award ceremonies. It is the third major international book fair in recent years to feature China as the guest of honor, following the 2009 Frankfurt Book Fair and the 2012 London Book Fair.
As honorees, Chinese publishers were given a central place on the showroom floor and responded by displaying nearly 10,000 titles of Chinese books and hosting a series of cultural events, book launches and other sundry activities. Fang Zhenghui, Vice President of CIPG, led the Chinese delegation to the expo and participated in seminars and launch ceremonies at the BEA China Pavilion. The events were jointly hosted by CIPG; the State Council Information Office; the State Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film and Television of the People's Republic of China; and China's Consulate General in New York. It was organized by Beijing-based Foreign Languages Press.
CIPG exhibited a rich, multilingual display of 865 book titles at their inviting reading room stand at the BEA. A buzzing crowd of visitors perused copies of works on modern China and governance such as Xi Jinping: The Governance of China and the China Today: Understanding the CPC series. A nearby photo exhibition featured content from Shared Memories of the US and China: The Pacific War Against Japanese Aggression. The author of I am from Xinjiang on the Silk Road, Kurbanjan Samat, participated in a readers' forum.
It was the symposium on the Chinese president's new book, however, that drew the greatest response from attendees.
Zhang Qiyue, Chinese Consul General in New York, read a statement by former U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger at the symposium, celebrating the exchange of books as an important contributing element to the development of peace and prosperity.
"The book is an eloquent, thoughtful window into a leader, a country and millennia of civilization. Domestically, President Xi proposes a vast transformation of China combating corruption, strengthening legal institutions, preserving the environment and growing the Chinese economy," said Kissinger.
Wu Shangzhi, Vice Minister of the State Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film and Television, said the book helps readers better understand the dreams and aspirations of the Chinese nation of people.
"The essence of the Chinese dream is to make the country prosperous and strong, to revitalize the nation, and to make the people happy. In this book, readers can sense the Chinese people's initiative and confidence in following their own path toward these visions and goals," Wu said.
New titles launched
Following the symposium, the Chinese delegation attended the launch ceremonies for other CIPG titles, including an unprecedented five-book series decoding the philosophies and goals of the governing Party called China Today: Understanding the CPC.
Vice Minister Wu said the series is the result of "exciting" cooperation between two professional publishing houses. The English editions launched at BEA are co-published by Foreign Languages Press and the Party Building Books Publishing House, also based in Beijing.
"The authors of this series are all experts specializing in CPC research. In order to provide to the readers with a true image of the CPC, they focus on core issues and key priorities, explaining complex issues with simple yet vivid language," Wu said, adding the key to understanding the real China is to understand the CPC.
CIPG Vice President Fang congratulated the publishers on the important series, saying it answers two fundamental questions about the CPC's rule: "For whom?" and "By whom?"
"I am confident that these books will become a window for readers from other countries to learn about and understand China, that they will serve as a bridge for exchanges between the peoples and cultures of China and other countries, and that they will help to promote mutual understanding and common development," Fang said.
Fang, Consul General Zhang and renowned historical experts also spoke at a launch ceremony for Shared Memories of the US and China: The Pacific War Against Japanese Aggression--a pictorial book marking the 70th anniversary of cooperation of U.S. and Chinese soldiers during World War II. A photo exhibit featured some of the 260 images in the book.
"Among the selected images are photos taken by soldiers of the U.S. Army Signal Corps portraying the Chinese and U.S. troops living, drilling, and fighting battles against the Japanese aggressors in the China Burma India Theater, and photos preserved by the Institute of Modern History of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, the Academy of History of Chinese Resistance Against Japanese Aggression, and China Pictorial," said Fang.
Not all titles featured at the CIPG reading room at BEA were political in nature. New World Press launched the English version of I am from Xinjiang on the Silk Road at the expo. In attendance was the protagonist of one of the many stories featured in the book, a young Uzbek girl named Dilraba Rahmet who wore a traditional costume and served a Xinjiang rose tea. Author Kurbanjan Samat was also on hand to meet readers and discuss the photos and stories of local Xinjiang culture.
The expo was a resounding success for all Chinese publishers attending. CIPG and its seven subsidiary partners exported some 200 copyrights at BEA to pave the way for new translations of their most popular titles. In 2014, CIPG exported a total of 573 copyrights, including 100 electronic copyrights, to 24 countries and regions across the world.
The author is a contributing writer to Beijing Review, living in New York City
Copyedited by Eric Daly