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Chinese writers deepen Cubans' cultural links with China

The 2018 Havana International Book Fair is an opportunity to promote exchanges between the 220-member Chinese delegation of authors, publishers and officials and their Cuban counterparts.

XinhuaUpdated: February 9, 2018

The 2018 Havana International Book Fair, where China is the guest country of honor, is an opportunity to promote exchanges between the 220-member Chinese delegation of authors, publishers and officials and their Cuban counterparts, as well as the general public.

"Cubans ... are very hospitable and kind. And in an exchange session at Havana University, I learned a lot," Chinese novelist Liu Zhenyun told Xinhua.

The famed author and screenwriter enjoys sharing ideas with readers of different nationalities because it can help complement what they already know about China.

"The publication and distribution of my books in Cuba makes it possible for Cuban readers to get to know ... Chinese people, their attitude towards what they like, their lifestyle, their sorrows and happiness," Liu said.

Fellow novelist Mai Jia echoed him, saying literary creation is a form of communication between writers and the world, and a way to express both emotions and realities.

"People say a novel is the secret history of a nation, and reading literary works is the best way to understand a nation," Mai said.

Mai, the author of "Decoded", a thriller about a mathematical genius who is also one of the greatest code breakers in the world, and "In the Dark", another thriller about the shadowy world of secret service operators, was amazed by the high daily turnout at the fair at Havana's historic San Pedro de La Cabana Fort, particularly the interest in Chinese books and authors.

"I am (amazed) there are so many people coming to the fair, and that Chinese writers as well as their books are so popular here... I feel really honored," Mai said.

According to Liu, books not only offer insights into different cultures, but also common ground where those cultures can come together.

His book "Cell Phone" is a case in point. The Spanish translation of the story of relationships and betrayal, hinged on a phone accidentally left at home one day, has sold widely in Cuba and is already in its second edition.

The novel, which has been translated into some 20 languages, is very popular because it deals with a worldwide phenomenon, Liu said.

"The rise of the cellphone, the internet, Weibo or WeChat has changed people, their lifestyles and their attitude towards life. Science and technology has brought the same changes to our society as a whole, regardless of social system or religion," he said.

The emergence of new digital technologies has revolutionized the way people and societies communicate, and the China-proposed Belt and Road Initiative is a reflection of that, using economy and culture to link people from different nations, Liu said.

Proposed by China in 2013, the initiative aims to build trade and infrastructure networks connecting Asia with Europe and Africa, and beyond, based on ancient land and maritime trade routes.

In the world of publishing, China's Renmin University has joined the initiative by creating an alliance of academic publishing houses. Cuba's Nuevo Milenio publishing house recently joined the alliance.

The idea is to establish bilateral or multilateral cooperation mechanisms through exchange programs to serve as a communication platform between China and the rest of the world.

The Havana book fair runs until Feb. 11.