Frankfurt Book Fair: Unharmonious Finale

China’s Communist Party might start a list of martyrs in Germany: there were those reshuffles at the Voice of Germany last year, and now, Peter Ripken, one of the Frankfurt Book Fair managers, has been fired for continuing coordination problems, reports Der Spiegel.

Ripken had been the International Center‘s manager since 2003. The Center is a cooperation between the book fair and the foreign office. Chinese dissident author Dai Qing was told by Ripken last week that she wasn’t scheduled to speak there on a final reception on Sunday.

A witch hunt? I don’t think so. Last month, Mr Ripken told China’s Global Times, concerning Dai Qing and Bei Ling, that

“We have withdrawn the invitation” […] “But one of the writers has been granted a visa from the German Foreign Ministry. My colleague is now negotiating with Beijing.” “The German media is overacting on this issue,” he added.

Holy shit.

It may be worth some thoughts if Dai Qing has been treated too much as a VIP in recent weeks. After all, she isn’t the only person who can speak for China.

But if Ripken really worked so hard to keep her out, it’s right to see him off. It’s bad enough that the CPC censors Chinese media and events. There is no need to help them with their dirty work in our place.

5 Responses to “Frankfurt Book Fair: Unharmonious Finale”

  1. Far East Economic Review has an article about the Frankfurt Book Fair fiasco and links the event with “China’s export of censorship”.

    Here is the link: http://www.feer.com/politics/2009/october54/Chinas-Export-of-Censorship

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  2. “It may be worth some thoughts if Dai Qing has been treated too much as a VIP in recent weeks. After all, she isn’t the only person who can speak for China.”

    Not to take anything away from someone who has (also) shown up in quite a few documentaries about China, but I have got to agree with you here on the Dai Qing front. Along the same lines, Die Zeit ran a massive piece on Ai Weiwei in Munich on October 1 — with nary a mention of a single other Chinese dissident, intellectual, or artist. Only this courageous lone voice can stand up to the dictatorship! it screams. Well, there are networks…and minus one courageous voice, other voices are heard with very similar and no less courageous criticisms.

    Your notion of China exporting censorship is another one worth thinking about. Haven’t been to Rebecca MacKinnon’s face-melting blog of staggering data lately, but perhaps this is something she is wrestling with as well.

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  3. Haven’t been to Rebecca MacKinnon’s face-melting blog of staggering data lately, but perhaps this [exporting censorship] is something she is wrestling with as well.

    She has been wrestling with it for a while, but in a different way. Beijing is making some valid points concerning the way ICANN (the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers) is organized, being answerable mainly to the U.S. Department of Commerce, and that it should be answerable to international bodies. Obviously, Beijing opposes the current mechanism.
    MacKinnon made a tour of China’s position there on May 14, and also quoted other official and NGO stakeholders elsewhere.
    As usual, it is about a more multi-polar world, or democracy among governments (rather than among the people they rule).
    Every quote she posts in bold letters points out how a basically legitimate case is being used by Beijing as a Trojan horse for censorship.
    That’s how I’m reading it, anyway. I’m certainly no techie, and I don’t know a great deal about how the internet works.

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