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Censor’s knife cuts deep into academe

CAMBRIDGE (SE): “We can confirm that we received an instruction from a Chinese import agency to block individual articles from The China Quarterly within China. 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,” a press release from Cambridge University Press published on August 18 says.
The press release goes on to say that the management is aware that other publishers have had entire collections of content blocked in China, until they have been able to organise to block individual articles.
However, it says that it will continue its practice of blocking individual articles so long as the bulk of its contents are allowed free access.
Nevertheless, the publisher says that it is worried about developments in the censorship field and has already organised talks with the Hong Kong Book Fair to discuss its position.
“We will not change the nature of our publishing to make content acceptable in China and we remain committed to ensuring that access to a wide variety of publishing is possible for academics, researchers, students and teachers in this market,” the publisher promises.
It then points out that China signed on to the International Publishers Association last year, which has a guiding principle of freedom to publish.
“The issue of censorship in China and other regions is not a short-term issue and therefore requires a longer-term approach. There are many things we can’t control, but we will continue to take every opportunity to influence this agenda,” Cambridge University Press says.
Over 300 articles from the China Quarterly have been blocked by Chinese censors. This has prompted the editor of the respected journal, Tim Pringle, to say, “We note too that this restriction of academic freedom is not an isolated move, but an extension of policies that have narrowed the space for public engagement and discussion across Chinese society.”
Pringle adds that his publication is not a fly-by-night rag, but a high standard journal that scholars from all over the world choose to publish in.
“We have been particularly pleased to reflect China’s going out policies via the rapidly increasing number of submissions from Chinese mainland scholars,” Pringle notes in promising not to soften his editorial approach just to please the Chinese government.

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