Global cultural understandings of Jiangsu province took a considerable leap forward Tuesday, with the launch of a series of English language books about Chinese culture at the London Book Fair 2016.
Based in Nanjing, Phoenix Publishing & Media is one of a handful of Chinese publishers at the 45 year old show, and their presence underlines a commitment, both on their behalf and also that of the Chinese government itself, toward helping people the world over appreciate Chinese culture on a deeper level.
Launching this year a box set of ten books with topics such as the Presidential Palace in Nanjing and the Taizhou School of Confucianism, along with a trio of new English publications; "How Past Beliefs Shape Modern China", "100 Years of Change in Language & Society" and "The Goddess of Wisdom", the media conglomerate claimed in their opening comments they have 101 such books in the pipeline, to be published at the rate of ten per year.
In his speech, Rob Scrivener of Beijing and London based Ian Taylor Associates that provides sales and marketing support and consultancy services to international publishers and publishing sector companies, said the launch was a more than welcome step to counter the recent surge of books about China written by foreign authors or Chinese authors located abroad, hardly appropriate people to be writing about the intricacies of Chinese culture. He also praised the publisher for their choice of contemporary material that covers a range of subject matter of interest to foreign readers, rather than obscure and ancient texts that through layers of often inexplicable culture leave the reader alienated more than informed.
The newly released books are certainly changing the tide, and are not afraid to tackle sensitive issues high in the national public conscience. In "Traditional Chinese Culture; How Past Beliefs Shape Modern China", author and director of the Nanjing Library, Xu Xiaoyue, argues that China's moral running aground through its turbulent years of development can be reversed by a return to values embodied in the country's three main belief systems; Confucianism, Daoism and Buddhism, values that have underpinned millennia of Chinese culture.
While many other countries are also represented at the London Book Fair 2016, each with a range of publications that largely promote their cultures to the English speaking world, it is possible that China's efforts, given her size and the current political climate, be interpreted as another projection of soft power. In this case, happily, this is a covergence of interests that can only be a good thing, both for China and the rest of the world.