HAVANA, Feb. 19 (Xinhua) -- China will be the guest country at the 2018 Cuba International Book Fair as a sign of historical friendly ties between the two nations and a way to expand cultural cooperation, a senior Cuban official said on Sunday.
"Inviting China to be the guest country at next year's fair will be of great importance for our bilateral cultural relation because we have distinct historical ties," Abel Prieto, Cuban minister of culture, told Xinhua.
Prieto said there are high expectations regarding the upcoming fair because China's great literature and arts will be available for the Cuban people to enjoy from Feb.1 to Feb. 11 next year.
He recalled the Chinese migration to Cuba in the 19th century, saying their footprints in the island have become an important component of what makes up the Cuban nation.
"The book fair dedicated to China will be an important event to remember that historical tradition, and to update our knowledge of the younger, more recent literature that must be extraordinary. I think it will be a great opportunity for the Cuban people to have closer contact with Chinese literature and arts," he added.
Meanwhile, Juan Rodriguez, president of the Cuban Book Institute, said over the last decade the institution has edited about 30 kinds of books by different Chinese authors, but next year's fair will be an opportunity to increase that figure significantly.
"It is a great pleasure to have China as a guest country of honor because our ties and collaborations will increase. Also we'll edit books by Cuban authors that have been published in China and print as many books by Chinese authors as possible," said Rodriguez after closing this year's book fair.
He said the Cuban people have always been eager to learn more about Chinese culture, and the fair, considered the island's greatest cultural event, will be a perfect opportunity.
"We have already worked with the Chinese side in the recently concluded 2017 International Book Fair. We believe China will be a great guest country in the 2018 edition of the event," he added.
According to Rodriguez, the 10-day book fair gathered over 416,000 people at the colonial fortress of San Carlos de la Cabana, east of Havana, where more than 301,500 books were sold for around 3.1 million pesos (132,000 U.S. dollars).