06-01-2007 14:18

At the end of last year, a 12-episode TV documentary about the rise of nine countries to become major global players created a real buzz among China's TV viewers. The demand for the programme and the books that followed it reflect the unprecedented level of interest in history, in China today. So we dedicate this month's Bookshelf to the "The Rise of the Great Powers".

As we know, the study of national power is of immense political and popular interest in China today as the developing nation reclaims its destiny. The study of history is also experiencing revived interest both among specialist scholars and ordinary readers. Ever since Confucius compiled the annal of the first part of history of the Eastern Zhou dynasty, called "Spring and Autumn", more than 2,000 years ago, it's been part of Chinese tradition to seek answers for today's problems in the rich experiences of the past.

In keeping with this, today we'll introduce two books to you. One is the "The Rise of Great Powers" and the other is a follow-up volume, called "The Lessons of Powerful Nations".

But before we get down to the nitty gritty, let's review the key events in the Chinese and international publishing industries over the past month.

World magazine publishers eye China

Beijing has recently played host to the World Magazine Congress, the first time for a developing country. More than a thousand international delegates from 45 countries took part. The Congress is the biggest gathering of the world's publishers. It touched on nearly every topic concerning the magazine industry and its future. China's periodical sector has developed as rapidly as the rest of its economy. Last year, China published almost 3 billion magazine copies with a total cover value of 14 billion yuan.

China, Russia team up in publishing

The State Press and Publication Administration has inked a memo of understanding with its Russian counterpart. According to Friday's deal, China will become the theme country at the Moscow International Book Fair early this September. The two sides have also promised to make policies for more cooperation in publishing, printing, and distribution.

World remembers Tintin's father

The world celebrated the 100th anniversary of the birth of Belgian comic strip artist Herge last Tuesday. His creations Tintin, the boy reporter, his little white dog Snowy and his companion Captain Haddock are much loved across the world. The stories have been published in a variety of languages. The characters have become part of the cultural fabric of Brussels, celebrated on painted walls and in shop windows across town.

NY displays big collection of tiny books

New York City's Grolier Club has held a special exhibition, displaying a big collection of tiny books. "Miniature Books:

4,000 Years of Tiny Treasures" features an array of books. All are smaller than three inches, some as tiny as one millimeter.

Highlighting the show is Toppan Printing Company's "The Twelve Horary Signs - Chinese Zodiac."

"The Rise of Great Powers" and "The Lessons of Powerful Nations" both come from The People's Publishing House. And both climbed into the national best-seller lists earlier this year. The books owe their popularity to the TV documentary of the same name. The programme explores how nine nations; Portugal, Spain, Holland, Great Britain, France, Germany, Japan, Russia and the United States grew in power, influence and wealth through the past five centuries.

It endorses the idea that China should study the experiences of these countries. This includes their international vision, the overall development of their economies and the innovations in their culture and social systems.

China Central Television, China's largest TV network, took three years to produce the show. The show received extremely high ratings when it was aired late last year. Experts say this reflects Chinese people's desire to learn about the outside world since the reform and opening up period began.