MIL-OSI China: London Book Fair director calls for more cultural exchange

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Source: China State Council Information Office 3

A booth displaying China-themed books is seen at London Book Fair in London, Britain, March 12, 2024. (Xinhua/Li Ying)

Cultural exchange is especially important during uncertain times, and books help build the bridge between different civilizations, the director of the London Book Fair (LBF) said this week.

Gareth Rapley said he is “delighted” to see an increase in participation by Chinese publishers at the LBF after COVID, showcasing a vast array of talent from China.

“We’re delighted to see an increase (in participation) this year from China. Hopefully, this year is a building block for further Chinese participation here at London book fair,” Rapley told Xinhua in an interview.

London Book Fair 2024, one of the world’s biggest, kicked off on Tuesday. First launched in 1971, the three-day event is expected to attract over 30,000 publishing professionals and 1,000 companies from around the globe.

This year, around 50 Chinese publishers are showcasing more than 3,200 types of Chinese-themed books, covering a wide range of areas including politics, culture, academic works, and trending topics such as low-carbon and artificial intelligence (AI).

“I think books provide a platform for literacy skills, education, understanding, and helping to create dialogue (between different cultures),” said the LBF chief.

Rapley has visited China’s biggest cities Beijing and Shanghai, and said he was impressed by the hospitality of the Chinese people, the rapid development of infrastructure and the country’s rich culture and history.

“It’s a beautiful country and I’m looking forward to coming back this summer for the Beijing International Book Fair,” he said.

According to Rapley, China and Britain have maintained “a great trade relationship”, especially in the publishing industry.

“I think cultural exchange and dialogue, as we’ve seen over many centuries, are important aspects. As humans we are all different, from one country to the next and within our own countries as well, so that cultural exchange is an important part of fostering relationships and building awareness,” he said.

Commenting on AI, which presents both a challenge and an opportunity for the publishing industry, Rapley said it is “an existential threat” to creative content and to writers of all genres. Copyright needs to be protected with fair use of new technology, he stressed, adding that however, AI technology can enhance data, business and operations. 

MIL OSI China News