Furore as Chinese Dissidents Address Book Fair Symposium (Updated)

News reports say that organizers of the Frankfurt Book Fair, the largest such event in the world, have uninvited two prominent Chinese writers, Dai Qing and Bei Ling, from a symposium at the behest of the Chinese government. From Deutsche Welle: The symposium, entitled “China and the world – perception and reality,” was initially intended to clear up prejudices about the guest country – China – ahead of the 2009 Frankfurt Book Fair, which begins in mid-October. What the organizers had intended as a promotional preamble soon became a PR nightmare when China made it clear that if the organizers persisted in including dissident writers, it would pull out of the symposium altogether. The fair’s organizers bowed to Chinese pressure and Bei Ling, Dai Qing and several other dissident authors found that their invitations had been revoked. If the organizers were hoping that the writers would go quietly, however, they were disappointed. Author Bei Ling has said that he will defy the ban and journalist Dai Qing has already arrived in Germany. The article goes on to describe Dai’s efforts to get to Frankfurt: Dai Qing, considered to be one of China’s leading investigative journalists and environmental activists, remained determined to defy the ban, despite a personal phone call from organizer Peter Ripkin begging her not to come. Dai’s original arrangements had been made by the Fair organizers themselves, but she managed to get a German visa as the guest of the German branch of the PEN club of independent writers. When Dai got to the airport, however, she found that her plane ticket had been mysteriously cancelled, despite the fact that she’d twice phoned the travel company to confirm. “They tried so hard to keep me from Frankfurt,” Dai said. Having spontaneously bought a new ticket, however, Dai has ...
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