Next week the London Book Fair welcomes China, the world’s largest publisher by volume, as the 2012 market focus and has teamed up with the British Council to invite around 20 Chinese writers to west London for a series of readings, discussions and talks celebrating the best in Chinese literature. But the writers who make up the delegation and the events at which they’ll be speaking have been chosen in consultation with partners including China’s General Administration of Press and Publishing (Gapp), whose responsibilities include the censorship of newspapers and publishers. According to writer Ma Jian this makes true cultural exchange impossible, and puts freedom of expression in China under yet more pressure:
For China to be named guest of honour. for the British cultural establishment to be shaking hands with the Chinese head of propaganda, a man responsible for the banning and censoring of books and the imprisonment of writers, is disgraceful.
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