Security police may swoop on book fair: organisers

Organisers of the annual book fair on Thursday said they will not screen the books to be sold at the week-long event next month, but warned that police will be called in if they receive any national security complaints.

The fair will be held at Wan Chai’s Exhibition and Convention Centre between July 14 and 20 with over 700 exhibitors taking part. It never took place last year after a major Covid-19 outbreak.

Benjamin Chau, deputy executive director of the Trade Development Council (TDC), said the book fair is open and free, and there will not be any censorship. But he said exhibitors will be reminded to abide by all local laws.

“With this national security law enacted, I am quite sure that all publishers will abide by this arrangement,” he said, adding that they know where the boundaries are.

The chairperson of Hong Kong Publishing Professionals Society, Anita Wan, said she doesn’t think firms are exercising self-censorship when it comes to sensitive political books.

“Publishers have their own choice of exhibits. I don’t think there’s an issue of self-censorship. They have their right to select what they want to show at the book fair,” she said.

Anti-epidemic measures will be put in place for the fair, including a requirement for all staff and exhibitors to be vaccinated against Covid-19, or get tested for the virus.

Visitors will be required to use the government’s LeaveHomeSafe app or fill in a form to provide their contact details before they enter the venue, and TDC officials will review the local coronavirus situation a week before the event begins.

Some 35,000 free tickets will be given to people who have been vaccinated against Covid-19, including those who have only received one jab. At least 60 exhibitors have also promised to give discounts to those who are inoculated.