UK publisher pulls content after pressure from Beijing

SHANGHAI/LONDON • Cambridge University Press, one of Britain's most respected academic publishers, has blocked online access in China to hundreds of scholarly articles and book reviews on Chinese affairs after coming under pressure from Beijing.

The articles were published in the China Quarterly, a leading academic journal on Chinese affairs that has been in print since the 1960s, and covered a range of topics deemed politically sensitive by the Chinese government.

The publisher said in a statement yesterday that it had complied with an instruction to remove the content, so that its other academic and educational materials would remain available in China.

President Xi Jinping has tightened China's already strict censorship since coming to power in 2012, as he seeks to cement the Communist Party's grip on power.

Foreign news is regularly censored or blocked in China, but it is unusual for academic journals, which have relatively limited readership, to face such scrutiny.

China Quarterly editor Tim Pringle wrote in a letter sent to the journal's academic board that China's General Administration of Press and Publication had sent Cambridge University Press, via its importer, a list of more than 300 China Quarterly articles "to be pulled" from its website in China.

The China Quarterly's editorial manager Rowan Pease confirmed the authenticity of the letter, which was circulated online, when reached by telephone.

The copy of the letter seen by Reuters was undated, and Professor Thomas Heberer of the University Duisburg-Essen in Germany, who is a board member, said it was sent out on Thursday.


A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 19, 2017, with the headline 'UK publisher pulls content after pressure from Beijing'. Print Edition | Subscribe