WASHINGTON, D.C. — History buffs and scholars in Hong Kong and Taiwan are snapping up copies of a new VOA book focused on taboo subjects that have long been banned in Communist China.
The book, based on a popular Voice of America Mandarin-language television segment called History’s Mysteries, includes politically sensitive material about the Dalai Lama, Tibet’s exiled spiritual leader, the early days of the Communist Party, and the late Zhao Ziyang, the former Party Secretary who was placed under house arrest in 1989.
“Due to heavy censorship, many people in Mainland China are unaware of these topics, or only know the official versions of them provided by the government,” said Robert Su Li, the producer and host of History’s Mysteries. “Our job is to tell them the truth.”
The book, titled National Secrets, went on sale in July, just in time for the Hong Kong Book Fair, and is now in its second printing.
“Our generation has suffered great pain and we’ve paid a huge price, but the way mainlanders forget is very scary. I felt an urgent need to record history,” VOA China Branch Chief Sasha Gong told the South China Morning Post, which profiled the book.
History’s Mysteries debuted in June 2012 and its episodes have been viewed more than 1.1 million times on YouTube and the VOA Chinese website. Both websites are blocked in China, but are accessible to Chinese audiences via proxy servers and other circumvention technology.
National Secrets is the first in a planned series of books featuring scripts from History’s Mysteries and potentially VOA other shows as well.