Furtive readers snap up Hong Kong's books banned in China

Thu Nov 8, 2012 4:20pm EST
 
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By Yimou Lee

HONG KONG (Reuters) - Books banned in China have been flying off the shelves in Hong Kong in the run-up to China's leadership transition as mainland people seek insight into the decision makers who will run their country and the rivals who have fallen out of favor.

Hong Kong, a former British territory that returned to Chinese rule in 1997 under a deal that preserved much of its autonomy, has its own laws that include liberal publication rights.

As a result, mainland officials, businessmen and students eager to read up on China's most sensitive issues flock to the city's book shops.

"They want to know more about their fellow competitors - who goes up, who goes down and who's in trouble," said Paul Tang, director of People Book Cafe on the second floor of a shopping center in the busy Causeway Bay district.

Tang attracts shoppers' attention with a portrait of Mao Zedong at the entrance of his shop and a sign in Chinese script promising "banned books".

China's ruling Communist Party chooses a new leadership team for the first time in a decade in a congress that began on Thursday. Speculation has been rife about whose stars are on the rise and whose are on the way down.

Sales of banned political books have gone up by 30 percent over the past year, Tang said.

His customers include men who he believes are Chinese intelligence officers who regularly fork out hundreds of dollars for books about politics.   Continued...

 
A mainland Chinese visitor looks on as a lightbox featuring a book on the potential new Chinese premier is displayed outside a bookstore in Hong Kong selling books that are banned in mainland China, November 6, 2012. Books banned in China have been flying off the shelves in Hong Kong in the run-up to China's leadership transition as mainland people seek insight into the decision makers who will run their country and the rivals who have fallen out of favour. REUTERS/Bobby Yip