Germany’s participation in Taipei book fair a 'political statement,' says German envoy to Taiwan

The director-general of the German Institute in Taipei lauded the country's democratic society and freedom of speech

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Organizers of the 2019 Taipei International Book Exhibition (TIBE) and representatives from the German pavilion attend the TIBE press conference on Fe

Organizers of the 2019 Taipei International Book Exhibition (TIBE) and representatives from the German pavilion attend the TIBE press conference on Fe

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Germany’s participation as the theme country of the 2019 book fair in Taipei sends a strong political statement as both Germany and Taiwan value democracy and respect freedom of expression, said Thomas Prinz, the German representative to Taiwan, at a press conference Monday.

Speaking ahead of the Taipei International Book Exhibition (TIBE), which is set of open on Tuesday and last through Sunday, the director-general of the German Institute in Taipei said as the guest of honor at this year’s book fair, Germany is making a “political statement.”

Nations that fear the power of words may try to restrict it. Yet people in Taiwan are lucky enough to live in a democracy where freedom of thought is not a foreign concept, declared Prinz. “We don't need to look far to see countries where the publishing industry finds itself confronted with censorship.”

Germany is honored to take part in the book fair, and it considers TIBE the most important cultural event for the country in Taiwan this year, added Prinz.

Themed on “German Stories,” Germany will showcase 600 titles brought by 37 exhibitors and 15 publishing houses from Germany, covering a variety of topics ranging from technology, fake news, justice, and the Bauhaus school of art.

“We developed our program along with Taiwanese partners,” said Jens Rösler, director of the Goethe-Institute Taipei, emphasizing that the German stories are also relevant to Taiwanese society as both nations face similar challenges in terms of the development of technology and preservation of democracy.


► Jens Rösler, director of the Goethe-Institute Taipei (from left), James Chao, chairman of the Taipei Book Fair Foundation, Deputy Culture Minister Hsiao Tsung-hung, and other guests at the German pavilion (Taiwan News Photo: Teng Pei-ju)

The 414-square-meter German pavilion, where the books are shelved and as many as 28 events will take place, is designed in the “Bauhaus” style by architect Sabine Weismüller to celebrate the centennial of the architectural and art movement begun by German architect, Walter Gropius, in 1919.

With scaffolding, wooden planks, bright pink overhead banners and decorations, and long tables, the stage-like pavilion will provide space where publishers, authors, translators, and the public can come here to read and write their own stories, according to Weismüller.

Holger Volland, vice president of the Frankfurt Book Fair and an author himself, will also join 12 fiction and non-fiction writers from Germany. They will share their insights and interact with the public in a series of workshops and book events scheduled over the six-day exhibition.