Home Entertainment How Beijing makes unpleasant publishers crumble

How Beijing makes unpleasant publishers crumble

eThere are many places in Hong Kong where you can watch as freedom dies a slow death. One of them is the book fair, which always takes place in July. The number of political China books has been declining there for years. Not because the Hong Kong government banned them. The thing is more complicated.

Friederike Böge

"In the past, many visitors came from mainland China to the fair," says publisher Bao Pu. They bought those books that can not be found elsewhere in China: historical treatises on the Tiananmen massacre and the Cultural Revolution, biographies of Chinese leaders, but also gossip about the alleged sex life of the party elite. Their thirst for information kept an entire industry alive. In the meantime, however, customers are no longer coming from the mainland. "It has become a big risk to pass the border with books, especially at the time of the book fair," says Bao Pu. Therefore, the exhibitors are no longer interested in showing such literature. Because the Hong Kong youth is not interested in Chinese history. According to a Hong Kong University study, only 16 percent of Hong Kong's under 30 consider themselves Chinese.

If someone like Bao Pu thinks of giving up, that makes one sit up. The man is like the guardian of China's suppressed memory. In his small publisher New Century Press he has been publishing documents and diaries for years, which contemporary witnesses secretly send him. His sources include officials on the highest levels of power. His best-known book is the journal of former Prime Minister Zhao Ziyang, who secretly recorded thirty cassettes in house arrest. Zhao Ziyang was disempowered in 1989 for opposing the bloody suppression of student protests. Bao Poo's father was his closest associate.

Half a million confiscated books

Until five years ago, the publisher had many customers. But then the Communist Party targeted the Hong Kong book market. With the operation "Operation Southern Hill", it tightened the controls at the national customs border, which separates the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region from the rest of China. Beijing Airport proudly announced that it had confiscated half a million books. In the meantime, hardly any books are being delivered by mail.

Finally, in 2014, five Hong Kong booksellers were abducted by the Chinese National Security, which had earned their money with half-silk scandal books. The fate of booksellers, one of whom is still in detention, intimidated the whole industry. Perhaps also the printing company Asia One, which announced the publisher Bao Pu 2016 the long-term cooperation. Just because. At first, Bao Pu found another supplier, a small family business. But this soon got cold feet. "They said 2019 was a 'sensitive year' and they could not afford to lose their business." So Bao Pu was looking for a print shop outside of China. Even she has now turned down after only three books. "They said there was too much attention." Because the three books appeared on the occasion of the 30th Anniversary of the Tiananmen massacre. Among them "The Last Secret" with the original minutes of the party session in which the leading officials, one after another, found the bloodbath of 4 June right.

(TagToTranslate) Zhao Ziyang (t) Xi Jinping (t) Communist Party (t) Scandal book (t) Censorship (t) Hong Kong (t) China


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