China: Xiuyu Dong

Culture is central to humanity. Books as the marrow of human moral wealth, culture and style are even more important.

— Xiuyu Dong

Dong Xiuyu helped to set up Dushu Magazine, one of the most prominent and outspoken journals for intellectuals in China. As a publisher of serious works, and with nearly two decades of experience, Dong helped to turn the Joint Publishers company back from the verge of bankruptcy to profit-making. She also managed to produce quality books and magazines. After retirement, she set up the Chinese Cultural Forum which is a venue for scholars from within and outside China to interact and exchange experiences.

Dong Xiuyu retired after two decades of work with the Joint Publishers, but she continues to be active in cultural work. She established the Chinese Cultural Forum with a focus on educational reform, cultural change and institutional innovation. Dong Xiuyu has devoted much of her working life to facilitating cooperation in publishing between mainland China, Hong Kong and Taiwan, cutting across political differences, and striving for exchanges among intellectuals from these regions. This is her contribution to working for peace in this area of tension. From 1956 to 1979, Dong Xiuyu worked in the People’s Press as proofreader, as vice-director in the press department and editor in the editing office of the Party’s history. In 1979, she took part in setting up Dushu Magazine and was vice-director in the editing department. She was responsible for commissioning and interviewing, as well as for works in literature, history, philosophy and economics. Dushu Magazine continues to be published today, and Dong Xiuyu set up several new imprints and series. In 1987, she was sent to Hong Kong where she turned Joint Publishers’ heavy deficit into profit, and made the imprint a name to be reckoned with. In 1993, Dong Xiuyu went back to Beijing and helped save the Beijing Joint Publishers from bankruptcy, leading the company to an increase in profit by more than 30 times. Joint Publishers then got its own buildings, opened new bookstores and set up three new magazines. In 1998, Dong Xiuyu suffered a major setback when she developed breast cancer. However, no sooner had she had surgery that she hurried back to her desk, and continued to work while receiving radioactive treatment.

Chinese Cultural Forum