Along a bustling street named “al-Mutanabi” in downtown Baghdad, pedestrians occasionally stop at roadside bookstores or bookstalls to look for books of interest.
As a unique cultural area and a bookselling center, the street has witnessed a growing demand for books on China over the years. Now, writings on China are among the top-selling items.
“Recently, students began to study Iraq-China relations and the Belt and Road Initiative, which led to the spread of books on the initiative’s impact, causes, results and benefits,” said Khalid Hussein, a 35-year-old owner of a bookstore in the street.
Like Hussein, many other booksellers in the street attribute the increasing interest in China to the deepening bilateral ties, especially the growing cooperation within the Belt and Road framework.
“The Belt and Road Initiative has encouraged Iraqi readers and researchers to discover the culture and literature of the Chinese people, and also promoted the translation of Chinese books into Arabic for Arab researchers,” said Salam Rahman, another bookstore owner.
In the eyes of Mohammed Jamil, professor of anthropology and sociology at the Baghdad-based al-Mustansiriyah University, books on China written by Chinese writers have provided readers with credible information about the country.
“There are (Chinese) authors who are interested in writing books and exporting them to the Arab region and this is good for the Iraqi readers who have started to obtain such books,” Jamil said.
“We see that there are more books (on China), dozens of books in our library now, which is very beneficial to the library and enriches the knowledge heritage,” he added.
Meanwhile, seeing the Belt and Road as a great opportunity for their country, more Iraqi scholars and postgraduate students have decided to write research papers on China or bilateral cooperation.
Aqeel al-Rubaie, a politics professor at the Baghdad-based Imam Jaafar al-Sadiq University, is writing a book on Iraq’s opportunities and benefits from its economic cooperation with China.
“Twenty years ago, Iraqi intellectuals or readers knew little about China, but today the situation is different. Iraqi readers and researchers are seeking information about China,” said al-Rubaie, a regular visitor to the bookstores in the al-Mutanabi street.
China’s development achievements and visions on promoting mutual benefit and common prosperity have generated a desire among Iraqi readers to learn more about the country, said the scholar. ■