A Bookstore That Shines as ‘a Lighthouse of a Free Society’


TAIPEI, Taiwan — Inside a hushed bookstore in central Taipei one recent night, Ju Lee-wen stood beneath a large black banner that said “Revolution Now!” and raised her fist into the air.

Ms. Ju, a 26-year-old lawyer, is concerned by China’s increasingly authoritarian policies, including harsh new security laws in Hong Kong. She went to Causeway Bay Books, an irreverent shop stocked with volumes critical of the Chinese Communist Party, to show her support for democracy in Hong Kong and Taiwan.

“We have to fight to protect our freedom and our future,” Ms. Ju said.

Causeway Bay Books, which occupies a cramped room on the 10th floor of a drab office building, has in recent weeks become a gathering place for people worried about the future of Taiwan, a self-ruling democracy that China claims as its own. As China’s leaders lead a sweeping crackdown on free speech and activism in Hong Kong, fears are growing that Beijing may move to more aggressively bring Taiwan, too, under its control.

Hundreds of people come to the store each week to peruse books forbidden in the mainland. They pick up exposés on the private lives of China’s leaders, historical accounts of events like the Tiananmen Square massacre and dystopian novels like George Orwell’s “1984.”

The bookstore has its share of critics. Some believe the selection of books offers a skewed portrait of modern China, focusing too much on negative portrayals.


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