Prince Andrew, the Duke of York, and a crystal ball graced the launch of a showcase event at the London Book Fair, which opened on Monday, but the focus was all on China.
A Chinese calligrapher writes for visitors to the London Book Fair 2012 on Monday. [Mei Jia / China Daily]
The crystal ball at the Mandarin Oriental hotel beside Hyde Park was lit by Li Changchun, a member of the Standing Committee of the Political Bureau of the Communist Party of China Central Committee, to open the series of Market Focus events at the three-day book fair.
Li said China was proud of being the market focus this year, and believes the fair will open a window for the world to experience Chinese culture directly, and for Chinese publishers to learn.
"It's certain to promote the publishing business between China and the UK, and China and the world, and further cultural exchanges," Li said.
Li said 300,000 titles were published in China in 2011, including a number of foreign titles.
Li remarked on Sino-British exchanges in recent years, especially during the 40th anniversary of diplomatic relations at ambassadorial level between the two countries.
He continued: "At present, it's the best time for the two countries to embark on a comprehensive round of cultural exchanges and cooperation. And the book fair strengthens the understanding and friendship of the two countries."
Prince Andrew also said he hoped for more exchanges in culture and creativity between the nations.
UK's Business Secretary Vince Cable said at the fair's China-UK forum on investment in the publishing industry that his country was welcoming the largest delegation in the business and introduced Britain as "the gateway to invest into European Union countries".
After the opening ceremony on Monday morning at the Market Focus Pavilion, themed around the five Chinese basic natural elements - metal, wood, water, fire and earth - audiences and visitors viewed presentations and exhibitions of Chinese culture. Engraving and calligraphy demonstrations were among the most popular.
As the 181 Chinese publishers gathered in the middle of London's Earls Court Exhibition Center to showcase their range of books, many local visitors and publishers from around the world came to see them.
"I am here to learn more about opportunities, especially in China. I think China's publishing industry will become very powerful in the near future, because it has so many people working in it," said David Hinds, director of the UK publisher Slimline Secrets.
Douglas Congdon-Martin, editor of Schiffer Publishing, said that his company has found success in China for the past 20 years and is happy to see more publishers exploring opportunities there.
Schiffer publishes photography and art books in the English language, which are printed in China and sold through Chinese partners to the local market.
Matthew Elliot, of Kalima, a publisher based in Abu Dhabi, said that he too is eager to learn more about China's publishing industry. He said that Kalima has translated many Chinese books into Arabic.
On Monday, visitors to the fair also enjoyed Chinese writers' events including a talk between Wang Meng and Margaret Drabble, discussing female characters in Chinese literature by Tie Ning and Bi Feiyu. Other events included film director Lu Chuan in conversation with his British counterpart Iain Softley, book launches and publishing forums.