Saturday, October 13, 2007

Harper Collins Editor Phil Friedman Won't Mention Tiananmen Square Massacre

Way to go Harper Collins and editor Paul Friedman who will soon produce a book that ignores the civil and military atrocities of the Tiananman Square massacre, and so intend their book to gain favor with the Chinese authorities.

The politics of guidebooks
By Finlo Rohrer
BBC News Magazine

A new book for travellers to China plans to make no mention of the Tiananmen Square massacre. Should travel guides tell the whole history of a place, or bow to local sensitivities?

Hotels are a must. So are tips on the local cuisine. A few key phrases. Some maps. A list of the best tourist sites and their opening hours. Perhaps some cultural do and don'ts.

...and this is another

All are key ingredients of a typical guide book. And yet many also feel the need to offer something more - a grounding in the history of the place that can help flesh out its culture, architecture and art.

Take Nuremberg. You could describe the city's medieval architecture, its beautiful perch on the River Pegnitz and its role in the German Renaissance.

But many travellers might find it strange if you didn't mention the Nazis' Nuremberg rallies. At least once.

And one might find it a little surprising that HarperCollins is to publish a guide entitled Travel Around China to coincide with 2008's Beijing Olympics that will make no mention of the Tiananmen Square massacre.

I don't think talk about the killings is appropriate for a travel guide

Phil Friedman, HarperCollins

The 1989 protest that culminated in demonstrators being fired on by soldiers, and the death of hundreds, is a taboo subject in China. Internet searches that would throw up results relating to the episode are censored. Newspapers do not mention it.

HarperCollins are yet to confirm the content of the book - compiled from contributions from native Chinese writers - but the prospects do not seem to favour a mention.

Years of history

Editor Phil Friedman - who is working on the book - says people want different things from a travel guide.

"I don't think talk about the killings is appropriate for a travel guide... Tiananmen Square had thousands of years of history before that occurred. Tiananmen is a feudal site, hugely important historic site. I'm not sure people travelling there would go there because there were shootings."

You could praise Nuremberg's architecture...
But to Independent travel editor Simon Calder, this attitude is problematic.

"Travel guides are not just about telling you where to get a cheap bed and meet the locals in civil circumstances. They are helping you to understand a place," he says.

"The notion you could get a proper idea of a country as complex, fascinating and in many ways alarming as China without knowing about the history and politics is preposterous."

BBC Link

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