Last year, five China based publishers and booksellers have disappeared under mysterious circumstances. Since then, those in the book industry have been terrified. According to The Guardian, “Bookshops have closed. Publishers have left. Authors have stopped writing. Books have been pulped. Printers are refusing political works. Readers have stopped buying.”
The industry itself is being taken over by the “mainland-backed conglomerate (Chung Hwa Book Co) that owns most Hong Kong Bookshops.” Books distributed by this company never allow “forbidden” books to be sold in any of their stores. As of today, the five largest publishers are owned, and controlled, by Chung Hwa Book Co.
Image courtesy of The Guardian
Part of the crackdown from the Chinese government is a response to a new crowd called “democracy tourists.” Democracy tourists travel to Hong Kong seeking politically charged books that they cannot get from any other part of China. These tourists have also been seen taking part in pro-democracy movements in Hong Kong, or at least observing.
The best thing we can do as readers is raise awareness to these banned books. Unfortunately it is very hard to find the right books in a language we are not familiar with. It seems the only thing we can do is show support any way we can.
Featured image courtesy of Slate