Don’t Let the Dogs Eat World Book Day

The Other China



The 23rd April 2023 is designated by UNESCO as World Book and Copyright Day. It is an occasion to celebrate books as a ‘link between the past and the future, a bridge between generations and across cultures’.

On this day, UNESCO recognises the individuals, businesses and bodies through which book culture flourishes — authors, publishers, booksellers, and libraries.

In 2023, China Heritage marks World Book Day with an epigram written in the hand of Liu Chan 劉蟾, whose work features in The Other China.

We have chosen 噬犬 shì quǎn — the threat of a vicious dog — as our rubric. This, in turn, brings to mind the expression 狗仗人勢 gǒu zhàng rén shì, one which reflects the benighted state of Chinese letters in Xi Jinping’s Empire of Tedium.

— Geremie R. Barmé
Editor, China Heritage
23 April 2023
Saint George’s Day

‘Don’t let everything you’ve read end up in a dog’s stomach.’

(That is: don’t recklessly abandon what you have learned from reading.)


According to a report on the retail book market released in March [2023], there were 25,000 fewer book titles released in China in 2022 than in 2021. This included a drop of 5,000 in the number of new original Chinese titles, and a drop of 20,000 in the number of imported titles in translation.

New titles have dropped substantially as a proportion of China’s book publishing industry during Xi’s decade in power, from more than 20 percent of the total in 2014 to just 13.63 percent in 2022. In 2020, the retail market for books shrank for the first time in decades, and in 2022 contracted even further.

A New Era for China’s Readers, China Media Project, 25 April 2023


For more dogs in China Heritage, see Dog Days in New Sinology Jottings: