HONG KONG: Bookstore of Banned Books

Monday, April 22, 2013
Freedom to Write News

The Atlantic Cities reports that a bookstore in Hong Kong has found a way to bypass China's infamous restrictions and censorship on what the Chinese government deems unsuitable for the general public. The article reads:

Information wants to be free, so the saying goes, and in China's repressive media environment, millions still manage to circumvent government censorship to access sites such as Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube. Subverting the so-called "Great Firewall" can be as easy as paying for a virtual private network (VPN) service, and once past the firewall, Chinese internet users are free to check out whatever forbidden websites they want. They can even download banned books on bannedbook.org, which, tellingly, only has a Chinese-language version.

For mainland Luddites who prefer to sit down and read a book that their government has determined unsuitable for general consumption, the closest thing to a 3-D VPN is People's Recreation Community, a tiny bookstore in Hong Kong's Causeway Bay known for selling the widest range of banned books available in greater China.

Hong Kong is part of China, but during negotiations between Deng Xiaoping and Margaret Thatcher in the 1980s, Deng agreed to grant the former British colony 50 years of autonomy after its return to Chinese rule in 1997. Thus, in Hong Kong, mainland Chinese people can purchase pornographic magazines at 7-11, read the New York Times on their iPads and buy books about the carnage of Tiananmen Square in 1989 at a neighborhood bookstore.

Inside People's Recreation Community, a computer monitor at the bookstore's entrance announces the previous month's top sellers. Current titles include: The Great Collapse of 2014, The Wen Family's Wealth Storm or, March's top seller, Xi Jinping Bites Back at Jiang Zemin. First-time visitors chat excitedly with friends in Mandarin while casting glances around the shop. Return customers, who tend to be alone, quietly leaf through new arrivals.

Read the full article here.


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