Biographies of world leaders, including U.S. President Donald Trump, South Korean President Moon Jae-in, and French President Emmanuel Macron, have become best sellers in China, Beijing Youth Daily reported on Jan 15.
For example, the Chinese version of Trump’s biography The Art of Deal has been reprinted seven times. The book is listed among the top sellers of biographies of famous people on an e-commerce platform, and has received some 5,000 reviews.
The president of South Korea selected Chinese as the first foreign language version of his biography Moon Jae-in: The Destiny. Moon wrote in the book’s preface that authorizing Chinese as the first foreign language version of his biography makes him feel more about the significance of the book and the delightfulness its publication has created.
Why do foreign leaders choose to have the Chinese versions of their biographies published around the time when they visit China?
Like Revolution by French President Emmanuel Macron, which followed his recent visit to China, Moon’s book was also released in China less than a month after his China visit.
Wang Qijin, deputy director of the Literature Publishing Center of Sichuan People’s Publishing House, which is a publisher of Revolution, said the book is worth recommending for its value in foreign affairs and cultural exchanges and the positive energy of the French president’s personal experiences.
The sales of the biographies come in line with the foreign leaders’ influence in China, though not all the biographies are bestsellers, Wang said.
In those biographies, the foreign leaders have also expressed their impressions of China. In The Destiny, Moon wrote: “I hope this book will help to enhance China-South Korea relations, deepen political mutual trust and promote common prosperity.“
In Revolution, the French president not only proposed to develop a comprehensive partnership with China, but also mentioned French General Charles de Gaulle, saying that the Chinese leaders have never forgotten that France was the first Western country to recognize the People’s Republic of China.
Biographies have become the most direct way for the public to know about world political leaders. Behind the publication of the books, there are some stories.
Zhang Xiaoming, one of the persons in charge of publishing Moon’s biography, said getting the copyright to publish the book is the result of a very fierce competition with many domestic rivals.
Zhang Chunxiao, one of the publishing house’s editors of Revolution, said a special procedure was needed to publish this book, one that was unlike any book she has ever edited, as it is about a foreign leader.
Usually, the publishers will need three to one year before these books are released into the market. But it took only two weeks of concerted efforts to publish Revolution during the president’s visit to China, Zhang said.
To check some details, the translators and editors will contact foreign organizations responsible for editing or publishing the presidents’ books. For instance, a person in charge of publishing Moon’s book said they once received a call from the Presidential Residence of Cheong Wa Dae to discuss some details in the book.