UK journal to defy Chinese censorship after criticisms

SHANGHAI • Academic journal China Quarterly, published by Cambridge University Press (CUP), has backpedalled on its decision to remove articles from its website in China following an outcry over academic freedoms.

CUP said late last week it had removed some 300 papers and book reviews published in the journal from its website in China following a request from the Chinese government.

"As editor, I would like to express my support for CUP's decision to repost the articles," China Quarterly editor Tim Pringle said in a statement.

CUP earlier said that it complied with the Chinese censorship so that the larger body of its academic and educational materials could remain available in China.

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

The articles and book reviews touched on subjects deemed sensitive by the Chinese government, including the 1989 pro-democracy demonstrations in Tiananmen Square and the 1965 to 1975 Cultural Revolution.

The state-run Global Times said in an editorial yesterday: "Western institutions have the freedom to choose. If they don't like the Chinese way, they can stop engaging with us.

"If they think China's Internet market is so important that they can't miss out, they need to respect Chinese law and adapt to the Chinese way."

News about the earlier decision by CUP, the centuries-old publishing arm of Cambridge University, had set off a torrent of criticism, including from overseas scholars of Chinese affairs.

In an open letter posted on Medium, history professor James Millward of Georgetown University said the decision was "a craven, shameful and destructive concession to (China's) growing censorship regime" and a violation of academic independence.


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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 22, 2017, with the headline UK journal to defy Chinese censorship after criticisms. Subscribe