By origin a state run enterprise established after the Great Liberation of China in the new Marxist China (Xinhua), the Beijing Foreign Language Press can boast a glorious history as the number one State Publishing house in the nation, responsible for not millions but billions of printings. For those a little bit more familiar with the history of the Chinese Revolution and specifically the career of Mao Zedong in Beijing after it had succeeded know the BFL as the publishing house responsible for many a important title, among them
The front of the Beijing Foreign Language Bookstore along the west flank of Wanfujing Street (Photo: December 2013).
such standard "propaganda" books as Israel Epstein's "From Opium War to Liberation" (the plot of which can also be seen cast into the epic Cultural Revolutionary Peking Opera "The East is Red" ) and much more notably the "Little Red Book" which supposedly held the prime knowledge of the great Mao Zedong. It was the BFL that was the prime book publisher in Beijing throughout the entire Mao Zedong period and together with the Wanfujing Bookstore at the other end of the street, they were the only worthwhile such establishments in the city during the Cultural Revolution. It was the BFl that was behind the most printed books in Chinese History, number one among them the already mentioned "Little Red Book".
Today, after having to change the nature of its contents enormously over the last 30 years, Beijing Foreign Language Press is not only still operating but it is also leading among publications within the city. Its book store at Wanfujing Street still is most probably the best Book store in the city of Beijing, and for anyone foreign in the city of Beijing looking for a proper read, guidebook or introduction to some aspect of Chinese Culture it is definitely the first place to go and look.
Having survived through the turbulent
economic liberation to thrive in the modern day city of Beijing, altogether the BFL still is the best address in the city to go browse your books, especially when they are in a Foreign language, i.e. not in Chinese. Choice books come mainly in English these days, there are however also books in French, German and even a few other languages. In addition, they have an excellent choice in the language learning section, although this is the most helpful for anyone learning another language straight from the Chinese.
HISTORY OF BEIJING FOREIGN LANGUAGE PRESS:
Formally established on July 1, 1952, the Foreign Languages Press (FLP) is an international comprehensive publishing house, specializing in editing, translating and publishing foreign-language books for readers abroad. It also publishes foreign-language textbooks, reference books and books in Chinese. That said, it is much clearer to mark it as a clear and important part of the propaganda machine of the Chinese Communist Party ever since its very first day.
Over the past half century since establishment, it has published, in 43 languages, a great number of documents of the Party and government, Marxist-Leninist works including those from Russia -its 1960s editions of works by Marx and Lenin are still widely circulated- , the works of Mao Zedong and by now other Party and state leaders such as Zhou Enlai, Deng Xiaoping, Jiang Zhemin etc, and books on political theories. It has also translated and published many literary classics and famous works by modern and contemporary writers, art albums and children's
Front Cover and Chairman Mao poem on inside, from the Red Book.
readings. Apart from printing and publishing the most noteworthy books in Chinese Revolutionary History the BFL was also active in the printing and supplying of propaganda photos and posters.
March 1958, the English edition of Beijing Review launched being published via Beijing Foreign Language Press. It went on to have Spanish, French, Japanese, Indonesian, German, Arabic and Portuguese editions.
During the Cultural Revolution Era (1966 AD - 1976 AD) the BFL Presses ran millions of copies of the "quotations of Chairman Mao" a.k.a. the "Little Red Book", not to mention the other works of Mao Zedong. The Quotations of Mao Zedong were published in the English Language for the first time in 1966, right at the beginning of the Cultural Revolution turmoil. Propaganda posters featuring Mao Zedong, as well as some other leaders images or often produced and printed by FLP.
Since 1978, the FLP has shifted its focus to basic information about China and the country's policy of reform and opening to the outside world. Its publishing scope has expanded to cover background information about China, traditional Chinese culture, economy, law, history, geography, medical and health care, children's readings and Chinese-language textbooks for foreign students.
The FLP has a large team of editors and translators well versed in both foreign publicity and publishing business. To improve the quality of translations, the FLP has employed native speakers as "polishers". Some famous Chinese and foreign experts and top-notch translators have worked with the FLP at one time or another, such as Israel Epstein, Sidney Shapiro, Gladys Yang, Denise Ly-Lebreton, Tatsuko Yokokawa, Betty Chandler, Xiao Qian, Ye Junjian, and Yang Xianyi.
The FLP has been an active player in conducting cooperation with foreign publishing houses and in the rights trade. It has co-published, sold or bought the rights of a few hundred titles in the past decade.
As the Beijing Foreign Language Press management sees it; with the integration of the international market, the world needs to know about China, while China also needs to know about the world. While continuing to publish better books for its foreign market, the FLP has increased its attention to promoting the domestic market, and published a whole array of high-grade foreign-language readings to meet the needs of Chinese readers learning foreign languages, reaping a bumper harvest in terms of both economic and social benefits.
As of 2008, the house had published over 30,000 titles in a total of 43 languages.
The epic Revolutionary Peking Opera "Taking Tiger Mountain by Strategy" in book form, with music and song, published by BFL in 1970.
OWNERSHIP OF BEIJING FOREIGN LANGUAGE PRESS:
The FLP is now under the jurisdiction of the China Foreign Languages Publication and Distribution Administration (China International Publishing Group) which is a branch of the media control and propaganda apparatus of the Chinese State machine. The CIPG is also involved in Internet Publishing for the Chinese State and among things runs the old guard photo magazine "China Pictorial" -in its heyday a must see item-, the modern and internationally popular magazine "Beijing Review", as well as the (tourist information) website www.china.org.cn.
Although much more commercialized then during the Revolutionary Era, BFL should still be considered a central mouthpiece organ of the Chinese State and the Communist Party, and as its publication show it is still unanimously dedicated to the producing of propaganda while ignoring most other opportunities.
BUSINESS HOURS OF BEIJING FOREIGN LANGUAGE PRESS:
Foreign Languages Bookstore (Wangfujing Branch)
Opening Hours: 09:00 - 22:00
Location: No.235, Wangfujing Dajie, Dongcheng District
Foreign Languages Bookstore (Haidian Branch)
Opening Hours: 09:00 - 18:30
Location: No.25, Haidian Xi Dajie, Haidian District