China outraged after German book fair spat

16th September 2009, Comments 0 comments

Two Chinese dissidents took the stage to speak at an introductory symposium on Saturday, sparking a furious exodus from the official delegation.

Berlin -- A senior Chinese official on Tuesday lambasted the German organisers of the world's biggest book fair after they allowed speakers critical of Beijing to take part in a debate, prompting a walkout.

China's ambassador to Berlin, Wu Hongbo, slammed the conduct of the Frankfurt fair's hosts as "unacceptable" and "not an expression of respect for their Chinese partners" in an interview in the Berliner Zeitung daily.

Dai Qing, a dissident Chinese journalist, and Bei Ling, a Chinese poet in exile in the United States, took the stage to speak at an introductory symposium on Saturday, sparking a furious exodus from the official delegation.

The Chinese party was eventually persuaded to return and take part in the debate, entitled "China and the World."

"The world outside China has many prejudices and there are misunderstandings," Wu said. "To overcome these misunderstandings, all sides must ... hold to the principle of mutual respect, equal treatment and not interfering in internal affairs.”

The director of the fair, Juergen Boos, apologised for what he called a scheduling error but told Spiegel news magazine: "The fair is not taking place in Beijing. If we allow ourselves to be influenced by one country's politicians, we might as well shut up shop.”

The fair will take place from October 14 to 18.

AFP/Expatica

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