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CUP censors journal articles under pressure from Chinese authorities

In the UK, Cambridge University Press (CUP) has confirmed it complied with a demand from Chinese authorities to censor hundreds of articles in its China Quarterly journal, reports the Bookseller.

In a statement, CUP admitted it has blocked access to 300 articles on subjects such as the 1989 Tiananmen Square massacre, Tibet, Hong Kong and the Cultural Revolution from within China, on the instruction of Chinese import agencies.

‘We complied with this initial request to remove individual articles, to ensure that other academic and educational materials we publish remain available to researchers and educators in this market,’ CUP said. ‘We are aware that other publishers have had entire collections of content blocked in China until they have enabled the import agencies to block access to individual articles. We do not, and will not, proactively censor our content and will only consider blocking individual items (when requested to do so) when the wider availability of content is at risk.’

The publisher also expressed concern that censorship of academic material in the country is rising, and it has planned meetings with the relevant agencies at the Beijing Book Fair later this month.

CUP’s decision to censor the articles has been criticised by academics, including China Policy Institute director Jonathan Sullivan, who’s also a member of the China Quarterly’s executive committee. In a blog post, Sullivan wrote that ‘CUP’s decision to accede to the demands is a misguided, if understandable, economic decision that does harm to the Press’ reputation and integrity’.

In an open letter, a group of authors wrote: ‘Individually and together with Chinese colleagues … we are shocked by Cambridge University Press’ decision to comply with requests for censorship. There is no compromise to the idea of a global system of science … Hopefully CUP will reverse its policy and insist on academic freedom even if Chinese authorities do not.’


Category: International news