Another journal told to censor China articles

Cambridge University Press does a U-turn unblocks over 300 articles on its China site

Cambridge University Press does a U-turn unblocks over 300 articles on its China site

A leading British academic publisher that bowed to pressure from Beijing to block online access to hundreds of scholarly articles in China reversed its position and reposted the material on Monday, following an outcry over academic freedom. The articles and book reviews touched on subjects deemed sensitive by the Chinese government, including the 1989 prodemocracy demonstrations in Tiananmen Square, the 1965-75 Cultural Revolution, Taiwan, Xinjiang and Tibet.

UPDATE: According to the BBC, "The Chinese had said that if CUP did not censor content, it would not be able to publish other material in China".

Editor of China Quarterly Tim Pringle said in a Guardian op-ed that the journal was "delighted" by CUP's decision to repost the articles.

"I am delighted by the support of the global academic community", Pringle said. "We have regular conference calls with the PAC leadership where we cover lots of issues, and this will be fed into that discussion as well", said a spokesperson for the IPA today.

The articles were previously only available to subscribers or by buying individually, but Pringle said he had requested CUP make them freely available.

But critics argue that the publisher had undermined the principles of academic freedom and independence, and lent its name to China's censorship efforts.

HKFP remix. Photo: Wikicommons and Journal of Asian Studies.

HKFP has contacted the Association for Asian Studies for a list of the JAS articles that have been requested to be removed.

The petition say academics and universities reserve the right to boycott CUP and related journals if it gives into the Chinese government's demands.

Professor Balding's petition, which had more than 700 signatures, says: "As academics, we believe in the free and open exchange of ideas and information on all topics, not just those we agree with".

In a Chinese-language post on its official account on social media website Weibo, CUP announced its decision and said: "Academic freedom is the overriding principle on which the University of Cambridge is based".

Predictably, news of CUP's decision to defy censors was - you guessed it - censored in China.

"The deep story here is that when the state does such actions, it fosters greater self-censorship among academics". "For too long the assumption was that if there was interaction that there would be a change of thinking in China".

The furor comes against a tightening of controls by Chinese President Xi Jinping's government over a wide range of groups that could feed opposition to the ruling Communist Party, including lawyers who take on sensitive cases, non-governmental organizations and churches.

The Association for Asian Studies said in a statement on Monday that CUP had received a request from China's General Administration of Press and Publications to omit approximately 100 articles from the Journal of Asian Studies (JAS). Academics, journals, and institutions around the world are expressing alarm at the further suffocation of freedom of speech in the People's Republic. If they don't like the Chinese way, they can stop engaging with us.

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