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"Canada can, within a positive friendly atmosphere, ask the Chinese government to resolve the Tibetan situation."

Frankfurt sends out strong anti-censorship message

September 20, 2009
18.09.09 Catherine Neilan

The director of the Frankfurt Book Fair (FBF) has stressed that "censorship
will not take place" at this year's event, claiming that the idea that the
organisers would be subject to or engage in censorship was "false".

FBF came under widespread criticism last week for its decision to revoke
invitations sent to Chinese "dissident" authors Bei Ling and Dai Qing to
appear at a symposium about the fair's guest of honour China. The organisers
later changed their minds and allowed the authors to appear, causing the
official Chinese delegation to walk out and demand an apology. But Juergen
Boos has said the decision to prevent the authors from appearing "was
wrong". He added: "The Frankfurt Book Fair does not compromise to the
detriment of freedom of expression. Facilitating dialogue is not easy. We
have always been aware of this and the symposium confirmed this. Dialogue
is, however, the right way and the only way."

Boos highlighted a number of controversial attendees expected at this year's
event, such as Chinese Nobel Prize-winner Gao Xingjian, whose work was
banned in China, and poet Yan Lian, as an example of the FBF's openness. The
president of the World Uyghur Congress is also expected to attend the Fair,
as is artist Ai Weiwei, journalist Xue Xinran, Hong Kong author Leung
Ping-kwan and Taiwanese Chang Ta-Chun.

There will also be a discussion about freedom of expression and the press,
looking at China as an example, and Tibet will be discussed "at numerous

He added: "We want to create a platform for the most diverse and extreme
points of view and, in doing so, facilitate dialogue. This generates
pressure from all sides, from which we cannot retreat. This pressure can and
should serve as the engine of a productive public discussion. Our goal is to
have a dialogue both with official China, as well as with authors,
academics, intellectuals from China and abroad. We will experience China,s
literature and culture impartially."

After last week's walk out, Mei Zhaorong, former Chinese ambassador to
Germany, told German newspapers that the German hosts had changed the
program of the symposium without informing the delegation from Beijing. "We
did not come here for a lesson in democracy," Mei said. "Those times are

But Boos was resolute. "Democracy and freedom of expression always involve
friction and the scandal over the weekend was only the beginning of a
democratic dispute that lies ahead for Guest of Honour China," he said. "The
Frankfurt Book Fair is not offering instruction in democracy, to be sure,
but it is democracy in action. These are the rules of the game of the
Frankfurt Book Fair."
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