By Wuping Zhao
SHANGHAI: On the eve of its scheduled launch, a pirated version of former US President George W. Bush’s memoir, Decision Points, is circulating in China and sparked controversy about its authenticity as well as what has been lost in the Chinese translation of the book by CITIC Press in Beijing. The pirated Chinese version contains the original passages about Tibet and other sensitive political topics which are taboo in China. One blogger wondered how the Chinese publisher could provide a Chinese version without the deletion of such sensitive material.
Decision Points will hit the shelves in China this Thursday. A spokesperson from CITIC Press, Ms. He, said that the publisher just learned the book had been pirated one week prior to its official launch on July 28.
However, the timing of the news about the pirate version has aroused suspicion that it might actually be part of a well-planned book promotion. On July 20, a blogger wrote a post on China’s popular social networking sites, tianya.cn, claiming that the pirated version of Decision Points was available from a street peddler for 10 renminbi. The buyer was confused whether the book was a counterfeit copy or not (see pictures of the book here).
The former president’s Chinese publisher does not deny that the book was pirated. Ms. He, from CITIC’s distribution team, urges readers to buy the legally licensed version priced at 48 reminbi, or $7.43. The UK version (Virgin Books) and US version (Crown Publishers) of the book are also available at online at Amazon.com.cn, priced at 229 and 180 renminbi respectively, or $35.40 and $27.80.
Pirated English-language versions have appeared on various Chinese file-sharing websites.
While bloggers are enthusiastically debating the authenticity of the pirated Decision Points, Mr. He Jiawei, a French language editor and translator from a Shanghai publishing company, doubts that the book’s Beijing publisher would publish the memoirs in Chinese without any deletions. He comments on weibo.com, a popular Twitter-like social networking web site where he reviewed the English version, that he did not think the book could be published in China without deleting any of the sensitive political passages.
Back in 2003, Simon & Schuster withdrew the rights to Senator Hillary Clinton’s Living History from it Chinese publisher, Yilin Press, because the Chinese version omitted certain passages about China’s government.
In an interview on weibo.com yesterday, one of the translators of Decision Points, Yue Jun, could not confirm whether the Chinese version would be complete or not. Yue Jun, a college English teacher from Wuhan, translated about one fifth of the memoirs.