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Bigger book fair kicks off in online first

By Mei Jia | China Daily | Updated: 2020-09-28 08:37

The 27th Beijing International Book Fair kicked off on Saturday, with the opening ceremony livestreamed on its official mobile app and news websites.

To keep the spirit of global cultural exchanges going during the COVID-19 pandemic, the book fair and related events have gone online for the first time. The inaugural fair was held in 1986.

"While many other international book fairs have been postponed or canceled, we hope this online BIBF will offer a platform for international publishing interaction and cultural dialogue," Liang Yanshun, deputy head of the Publicity Department of Communist Party of China Central Committee, said at the opening ceremony.

Huang Kunming, a member of the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee and head of the committee's publicity department, said books that showcase the charm of Chinese culture, the contemporary Chinese panorama and vitality, and the shared values of the global community are the ones that will attract a wider international audience to "enhance mutual learning and understanding of civilizations".

Publishing professionals and the fair's organizers say it is the second-largest in the world in terms of scale and influence.

With the theme of "exchanges make civilizations diverse", this year's fair has attracted 1,400 publishing organizations from 97 countries and regions, putting more than 300,000 titles on display online, including 38,000 for copyright trade.

Organizers said going online had not reduced the scale of the event and, if anything, had increased it.

"There are 200 first-time exhibitors at the fair, including those from Uruguay and Turkmenistan," said Lin Liying, deputy general manager of China National Publications Import & Export, adding that publishing organizations from 31 countries and regions involved in the Belt and Road Initiative have registered.

A section named Exhibition of Selected Titles features 202 works by and about President Xi Jinping in multilingual versions. Also featured are 112 titles on poverty alleviation, 70 on anti-pandemic endeavors and more on Party history, as well as 422 selected titles in various categories with global appeal. It is available online as a virtual presentation for readers to explore.

The fair has built an around-the-clock online copyright exchanging platform for global publishers called Rights Link. Virtual exhibitions and meetings are always available, and livestream releases of new titles are viewable, Lin said.

"The fair demonstrates how 5G technology is widely applied to publishing, as well as other up-to-date technologies," she added.

To celebrate the 60th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic ties with Cuba, that country is the fair's guest of honor.

Cuba's Minister of Culture Alpidio Alonso Grau said in a video clip that he applauded the idea of continuing the book fair online.

Carlos Miguel Pereira Hernandez, Cuba's ambassador to China, said the two countries shared deep friendship and ideals, and publishing opened up new areas of cooperation.

"We have been translating and publishing each other's excellent titles, which will bring the two countries even closer and yield further influences," he said.

Until the end of this month, the fair will offer more than 700 events including the annual Beijing International Publishing Forum, an illustration exhibition, and talks by authors.

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