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Increased Chinese government censorship causes printing delays

The Chinese government has implemented a new, strict policy for checking and restricting content in books that are printed in the country, resulting in delays for publishers worldwide, reports the Bookseller.

Starting in late 2018, the Chinese government tightened its printing approval processes and is now reviewing all books for maps—not just those maps relating to China and the territories it disputes, but any map of anywhere in the world. Subsequently, publishers around the world that print books in China have been experiencing schedule delays of up to eight weeks, in some cases.

Hardie Grant managing director Sandy Grant told the Sydney Morning Herald (SMH) that late last year the company cancelled the production of a children’s atlas, after a map it contained was not approved by Chinese authorities.

‘We were very angry when we were told we couldn’t print children’s maps that were pretty innocent,’ said Grant. ‘We didn’t proceed with the project because we couldn’t find a cost-effective solution.’

According to documents obtained by SMH, books containing religious content, or mention of any Chinese political figure or political conflict, are to be vetted by Chinese censors, and this process can take between 10 and 15 working days. Books containing maps can take up to 30 working days.

In November, one Chinese printing firm sent a letter to UK publishers warning of tightened regulations for books, and said it was warned it could have its licence revoked if authorities found it had printed ‘improper’ material three times in a year.

An anonymous UK production worker told the Bookseller: ‘We’ve got titles we’ve promoted in China quite happily for years, things like walking guides to the UK. There’s nothing controversial in there at all but they’re now having to be checked by the Chinese government because they include a map … With some of the stuff we’re having to say, “We just can’t print this in China.”’


Category: International news