A Bookstore That Shines as ‘a Lighthouse of a Free Society’


TAIPEI, Taiwan — Inside a hushed bookstore in central Taipei one latest evening, Ju Lee-wen stood beneath a massive black banner that stated “Revolution Now!” and raised her fist into the air.

Ms. Ju, a 26-year-old lawyer, is anxious by China’s more and more authoritarian insurance policies, together with harsh new safety legal guidelines in Hong Kong. She went to Causeway Bay Books, an irreverent store stocked with volumes crucial of the Chinese Communist Party, to point out her help for democracy in Hong Kong and Taiwan.

“We have to fight to protect our freedom and our future,” Ms. Ju stated.

Causeway Bay Books, which occupies a cramped room on the 10th flooring of a drab workplace constructing, has in latest weeks develop into a gathering place for folks anxious in regards to the future of Taiwan, a self-ruling democracy that China claims as its personal. As China’s leaders lead a sweeping crackdown on free speech and activism in Hong Kong, fears are rising that Beijing might transfer to extra aggressively convey Taiwan, too, beneath its management.

Hundreds of folks come to the shop every week to peruse books forbidden within the mainland. They decide up exposés on the non-public lives of China’s leaders, historic accounts of occasions just like the Tiananmen Square bloodbath and dystopian novels like George Orwell’s “1984.”

One guide about China’s highly effective chief, Xi Jinping, is titled, “The Zombie Who Rules the Country.”

Standing beneath banners calling for independence for Hong Kong, guests take part occasional chants of, “Fight for freedom!” On a wall of colourful sticky notes close to the entrance door, they write withering criticisms of China. “Tyranny must die,” says one notice.

Causeway Bay Books has develop into a image of Taiwan’s vibrant democracy at a time when the island is trying to promote itself as an alternative to China’s authoritarian system. The president of Taiwan, Tsai Ing-wen, visited recently, as have scores of government workers, students and commentators who are critical of China.

“It’s like a lighthouse of a free society,” said Leo Hong, 38, an employee at a state-owned company who visited one recent night to buy a book of photographs documenting antigovernment protests in Hong Kong last year.

The store straddles the line between mom-and-pop shop and political war room, with delicate floral wallpaper juxtaposed with stark banners declaring, “Free Hong Kong.”

The bookstore has its share of critics. Some believe the selection of books offers a skewed portrait of modern China, focusing too much on negative portrayals.



Source link Nytimes.com

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