Publishers expand worldwide readership of books on President Xi Jinping

A reader takes a look at a book in front of a wall of books about President Xi Jinping and national policies. Photo: Li Qian/GT

Walking through the busy booths at the latest Beijing book fair, one cannot miss the various books about Chinese President Xi Jinping and his grand policies.

Publications about President Xi and his strategies took center stage at the Beijing International Book Fair 2017, which just concluded at the colossal China international exhibition center.

This year, more than 2,200 exhibitors from both China and overseas seized the opportunity to showcase their books to potential commercial partners and about 200,000 visitors.

Stepping inside the main exhibition hall for Chinese exhibitors, it was impossible to miss a wall of books featuring President Xi and China’s development strategies sitting at the center of a giant booth beside the entrance. The booth, in its conspicuous position, displayed a wide collection of “excellent books” published in the past five years, including traditional Chinese culture and those aimed at spreading Chinese perspectives to foreign readers.

The wall of books, with a giant banner reading “Five Years of Hard Work,” was dedicated to books about Xi and national policies, published by companies from both Beijing and other provinces and regions.

Xi Jinping: The Governance of China, a book of 79 articles based on President Xi’s speeches, was no doubt the biggest star at the exhibit, and occupied the most prominent position. The book was compiled and edited by the Publicity Department of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee and other State organs.

According to Foreign Languages Press, the publisher of the book, Xi Jinping: The Governance of China has sold more than 6.42 million copies in 160 countries and regions, and has been made available in 21 different languages since it was first published in September 2014.

The Foreign Languages Press dedicated a special exhibition to the book at another booth in the same exhibit hall, showcasing all the different versions.

A lot of visitors stopped at the booth to read a passage or two from the book.

Zou Haidong, a magazine editor, said he had read the whole book. “If anyone wants to understand China, this is a must read,” he said. He also recommended the book to his girlfriend, who was browsing through the multilingual copies.

Foreign Languages Press editor Liu Yuhong told the Global Times that they are still trying to expand the readership of the book around the world. Currently the publisher is working on translating the book into 16 other languages, including Czech, Ukrainian and the Myanmar language, targeting readers in specific countries. The new language versions are expected to be available in 2018.

Telling stories

Some of the latest books about Xi made their book fair debut at the festival. Xi Jinping’s Seven Years as an Educated Youth was one of them.

The book is a compilation of interviews conducted by the Party School of the Central Committee of the CPC, which sent their staff to Liangjiahe, a small village of only about 300 residents in Yan’an, Northwest China’s Shaanxi Province, to conduct interviews with local villagers about the time when Xi lived with them.

Starting in 1969, Xi lived in Liangjiahe for seven years as an “educated youth.” The Party school staff held interviews with the villagers who worked with Xi at the time and a number of Xi’s fellow educated youths, to reveal what they remember about Xi amid that hardship. Xi’s connection with ordinary people, ability to undertake difficulties and his perseverance won applause from the interviewees in the book.

“Even during his personal hardship, Xi offered to help an elderly beggar with food and clothing. His personality and generosity is admirable,” the book quoted Lei Pingsheng, who shared the same cave house with Xi in Liangjiahe, as saying.

Another book about President Xi that garnered wide attention even before the book fair is Anecdotes and Sayings of Xi Jinping, produced by the People’s Daily. The book quotes vivid stories from Xi’s speeches, including references to Chinese classics and Xi’s personal experiences, and explains and elaborates on the stories so readers can better understand what the tales have to say about the Chinese government’s practical work.

In one of the chapters, Xi talks about his personal experience of being deeply touched by Russian writer Nikolay Chernyshevsky’s works when he was young, and how one of his fellow educated youths 40 years ago walked 15 kilometers to borrow a copy of German classic Faust.

In the commentary that follows the story, the book editors explained the importance of the works by the classic writers and stressed Xi’s advocacy of reading literary works that can act a world language for communications between different cultures.

History of effort

After the educated youth era and before taking office as president, Xi worked as a local official at different levels of the CPC hierarchy, from a grass-roots county official up to a provincial and national leader. Many books on exhibit at the Beijing book fair followed Xi’s work experience and political life, featuring his ideas for the development of local economies over the decades.

Publishers in provinces where Xi used to work have relished the opportunity to compile and print books about Xi’s experience and achievements in their respective regions since Xi was elected the General Secretary of the CPC Central Committee in November 2012.

Starting in 1982, Xi was an official with the CPC committee in Zhengding county, North China’s Hebei Province. The Party committees of Zhengding and Shijiazhuang, Hebei’s provincial capital, collected and compiled materials about Xi’s work in Zhengding from 1982 and 1985, including his speeches, articles and letters, and published them in a book. Most of the pieces in the book were made public for the first time.

Fujian People’s Publishing House, of East China’s Fujian Province where Xi used to be the Party chief of the city of Ningde, published a book titled Out of Poverty, which includes 29 extracts from Xi’s public speeches and written materials, all focused on how to lift the region out of poverty at that time, reflecting Xi’s focus during the period.

During his tenure as the Party head of East China’s Zhejiang Province between 2003 and 2007, Xi published 232 short commentaries in his column in the province’s official newspaper that discussed a variety of topics including cadres welcoming public supervision, the importance of improving knowledge, and the protection of the province’s famous West Lake. The Zhejiang People’s Publishing House then compiled all the pieces into a book, which was also available at the Beijing book fair.

Spreading the dream

In addition to the various language versions of Xi Jinping: The Governance of China, there are also other books about Xi that target readers in foreign countries.

The book The Xi Jinping Era: His Comprehensive Strategy Toward the China Dream is produced and printed in the US by CN Times Books, a privately-owned publisher based in Beijing. In order to resonate with readers outside of China, the book was completely produced by the publisher’s New York bureau. The book is available on various platforms including eBay, though the publisher’s manager Ning Binghui said no specific sales information is available.

Besides works about President Xi, books about broader subjects like the Belt and Road initiative and the Chinese Dream were all abundant at the book fair.

A grey-hair reader, who said she is a retired ministry civil servant, browsing through the book shelves, said these books are essential for telling Chinese stories. “We opened the Asia Infrastructure Investment Bank, so many countries want to join in, why? You’ll have to read these books to understand. I have,” she said.

Source: Global Times


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