Had anyone doubted whether or not China would actually come to the Fair, he may rest assured. The Chinese delegation hosted a Market Focus Reception at the Mandarin Oriental last night, branded with their hallmark of unbelievable expenditure, and the British came along for the ride. Polituburo Standing Committee member Li Changchun gave the opening speech and Prince Andrew followed right after him. Substantial speeches by Mr. Wu something-or-other, the chief of GAPP, and Tie Ning, Party Secretary for the China Writers Association.
Chandelier light glossed the black silk shoulders of the security personnel in a ballroom crowded like a Beijing train platform. Amid the heavy odor of warm Chanel, the China Market Focus at the London Book Fair was rung in with forty minutes of rhetoric about the earth-shattering importance of literature by people who have never written a poem in their lives. (the exception being Tie Ning, for whom the transformation is even more remarkable.) Inspiring, truly. Meanwhile, the reading of excerpts from work by three of the Chinese authors, scheduled for the second half of the ceremony, was canceled due to time concerns.