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First Shanghai, now Beijing

Eslite Bookstore, a successful 24-hour bookstore in Taiwan.[File photo]

Eslite Bookstore, a successful 24-hour bookstore in Taiwan.[File photo]

As reported several days ago, the city of Shanghai has, in an effort to preserve and nurture its ‘cultural ecology,’ pledged to support and promote its local bookstores. Now there’s news that Beijing is doing the same thing. 

Feng Junke, who heads the Beijing Municipal Bureau of Press and Publication,  announced that his group will be financing the city’s first 24-hour bookstore at the China Beijing Publishing Creative Industry Park (CBPCIP). According to Feng, all bookstores in Beijing, not only 24-hour ones, will also receive support from the municipal government.

Now granted, much of the Chinese economy is state-run. The human rights of millions if not hundreds of millions of citizens are routinely violated and copyright laws are ignored. The poor are exploited. Slavery is rampant.

And yet, along side this, government is doing many things right. Better in fact, in some cases, than we are in the almighty West. Economic growth has been spectacular. Many have been pulled from poverty. The stand of living has gone up. And, culture is respected. Civic leaders have recognized that, for the public good, to facilitate human contact and communication, learning and creation, they need to preserve and build neighbourhoods and environments that welcome real, physical interaction. The kind that you can’t find on line, but that you can in bookstores.

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