Academics are petitioning Cambridge University Press (CUP) to restore more than 300 politically sensitive articles removed from its Web site in China after a request from authorities, underscoring concerns about freedom of speech and the Chinese government’s increasing leverage over academic organizations.
Cambridge University Press on Friday said that it had complied with a request to block certain articles from The China Quarterly within China that touch on politically sensitive subjects, including the 1989 Tiananmen Square crackdown, the Cultural Revolution and Tibet.
The furor comes amid a tightening of controls by Chinese President Xi Jinping’s (習近平) government over a wide range of society that could feed opposition to the Chinese Communist Party, including lawyers who take on sensitive cases, non-governmental organizations and churches.
Christopher Balding, an associate professor in economics at Peking University HSBC Business School in Shenzhen, said he started the petition to bring pressure on not just CUP, but also universities and academics who interact with China, as well as Chinese universities and academics, “to stand up to” censorship by the Chinese government.
With Chinese universities increasingly hiring internationally, Beijing is concerned “that these universities are not going to have the ideological adherence to what Beijing wants them to say,” Balding said.
The petition circulating among academics calls on CUP to turn down censorship requests from the Chinese government.
It says that academics and universities reserve the right to boycott CUP and related journals if it gives in to the Chinese government’s demands.
The petition says the academics believe in the free and open exchange of ideas and information, and that it is “disturbing ... that China is attempting to export its censorship on topics that do not fit its preferred narrative.”
“The fundamental driver of this ... is simply to exercise control, to try to impose what they think is the correct way of thinking,” Balding said.
He said that academics in China who really want to read the papers will still be able to access the articles through their networks of colleagues or by skirting the Great Firewall.
However, “the signal is being sent: ‘We don’t want Chinese scholars publishing on this,’” he said. “You will mostly likely see a decline in basically any scholarly work on these particular issues.”
In an open letter posted on Medium, Georgetown University history professor James Millward said CUP’s decision was “a craven, shameful and destructive concession to [China’s] growing censorship regime” and a violation of academic independence.
By yesterday, more than 200 people had signed the three-day-old petition on change.org.
The Global Times newspaper, published by the Chinese Communist Party, said in an editorial yesterday that China blocks some information on foreign Web sites that it deems “harmful” to Chinese society, and that CUP has to abide by Chinese law if it sets up a server within China.
If Western institutions “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,” the editorial Additional reporting by Reuters
FORCED LABOR: Customs officials have seized a 11.8 tonne shipment of products made from human hair on suspicion they were produced by people facing human rights abuses Federal authorities in New York City on Wednesday seized a shipment of weaves and other beauty accessories suspected to be made out of human hair taken from people locked inside a Chinese internment camp. US Customs and Border Protection (CPB) officials said that 11.8 tonnes of hair products worth an estimated US$800,000 were in the shipment. “The production of these goods constitutes a very serious human rights violation, and the detention order is intended to send a clear and direct message to all entities seeking to do business with the United States that illicit and inhumane practices will not be tolerated in
HONG KONG SECURITY: The president blasted regulations requiring Taiwanese agents or political organizations to provide information on their Hong Kong-related activities President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) yesterday warned of countermeasures should controversial Chinese national security legislation imposed on Hong Kong undermine or harm Taiwanese interests. Article 43 of the legislation empowers the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region to serve written notices to Taiwanese political organizations or individual agents to furnish information on their Hong Kong-related activities, including their personal particulars, finances, assets, expenditure and capital in the territory. Failure to comply or providing false or incomplete information can result in a fine of HK$100,000 (US$12,903) or imprisonment of six months or two years respectively. Tsai said that Taiwan would keep a close watch on how
JUST QUESTIONS: Expelled reporter Ai Kezhu said that every member of Southeast Television had complied with the law and had not appeared on any talk shows Two Chinese reporters yesterday left Taiwan after the government revoked their accreditation and ordered them to leave amid a probe into allegations that several Chinese media outlets have set up studios and produced political talk shows in Taiwan. The two reporters — Ai Kezhu (艾珂竹) and Lu Qiang (盧薔) — worked for Fujian Province-based Southeast Television and arrived in Taiwan in December last year. The Mainland Affairs Council has launched an investigation after local media reported that Chinese broadcasters — including China Central Television, Southeast Television and FJTV — had set up studios in Taipei and produced political talk shows. Council Deputy Minister
PROBE LAUNCHED: An officer who served as a supervisor in the drill died in an apparent suicide after the accident, which was caused by unexpected waves Two marines who were on Friday injured in a military exercise in the waters off Kaohsiung passed away yesterday, Navy Command said. The marines — surnamed Tsai (蔡), 26, and a sergeant surnamed Chen (陳), 36 — were in a seven-member Marine Corps team that encountered rough seas during a simulated response to enemy forces landing on Taiwan. Their rubber craft overturned in waters off Taoziyuan (桃子園) beach in Zuoying District (左營), injuring four of the marines. They were rushed to hospital, where three of them — Tsai, Chen and a 34-year-old sergeant — were taken to an intensive care unit