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Iraq’s Abbas Kdaimy, a translator and editor who has worked at the Xinhua News Agency in China and became deputy editor-in-chief of the Foreign Languages Press Arabic department in Beijing, was among 12 recipients of the Special Book Award of China, the Translators from Australia, Canada and Russia were among the winners of the Special Book Award of China, the highest honour given to international publishing professionals who have made outstanding contributions to the promotion of Chinese literature and culture overseas.  It was awarded at a ceremony hosted by the Beijing International Book Fair (BIBF) which wrapped up on 25 August.

Kdaimy is a major figure in China-Arab World relations.  He came to Beijing from Baghdad in 1998 as news editor for the Xinhua News Agency and gradually slipped into the role of explaining China to the Arab World.  He has translated a number of Chinese classics from English into Arabic, notably the Romance of the Three Kingdoms.  More recently he translated the first volume of President Xi Jinping’s Governance of China.

In 2006 he invited his friends both in China and Iraq to help rejuvenate the Beijing-based China-Iraq Friendship Association and for his work on cultural exchange he was given the Friendship Award in 2014.  This award is the highest honour presented by the Chinese government to foreigners who have made significant contributions to the nation’s social and economic development.

His wife and two children soon joined him after he arrived from Baghdad and in 2012 he had the pleasure of seeing his son and daughter – both of whom are bilingual – graduated from university in Beijing.

This year’s BIBF was the 26th  and organisers CNPIEC described it as “the biggest and best yet”.  One of the biggest stories of the fair was BIBF’s partnership with China Telecom in which they demonstrated the possibilities of 5G technology.  Award-winning novelist and screenwriter Liu Zhenyun interviewed China’s first female astronaut Wang Yaping with a life-like image of her appearing next to him on stage before an audience whilst she was elsewhere in the Fair.

Out in the aisles there was much talk about tariffs with concern from US publishers over President Trump’s actions on books imported from China into the US.   Some publishers are looking at alternative locations for printing, with Malaysia and Vietnam both being mentioned.  This may yet provide an opportunity for Sharjah in the United Arab Emirates – its recently opened Sharjah Publishing City has printing facilities and could potentially provide a solution.

Commenting on the fair’s 5G debut, fair director Liying Lin said:

“We are thrilled to be the first publishing trade fair in the world to have the chance to demonstrate 5G’s capabilities.  5G’s increased speed, quantity and quality of transmission brings unrivalled opportunities to readers, publishers and the whole industry chain.”