Tue, Feb 19, 2019 - Page 1 News List

DPP legislators blast China over book censorship

By Chung Chih-kai, Hsieh Chun-lin and Sherry Hsiao  /  Staff reporter, with staff writer

An image posted on Facebook shows an e-mail written to Taiwanese entertainer Chen Chia-hsing by the editor-in-chief of an unidentified Taiwanese publisher.

Photo: Screengrab from Facebook

Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) lawmakers yesterday condemned Chinese censorship after entertainer Chen Chia-hsing (陳嘉行) said his recommendation for a new book was removed due to pressure from a Chinese publisher.

Chen yesterday posted on Facebook an image of a letter he received from the editor-in-chief of the unidentified book’s Taiwanese publisher.

In the letter, the editor-in-chief, whose name was blacked out in the online image, began by thanking Chen for agreeing to write a recommendation for the new book.

According to publishing regulations, the book cover must be reviewed by China’s CITIC Press Group, the letter said.

Last week, the Chinese publishing company informed the book’s author that Chen’s recommendation must be removed if the book is to be published, it said.

The editor-in-chief said that having worked in the industry for more than 10 years, it was the first time they ever encountered something like this.

The editor-in-chief asked the Chinese publisher for a reason, but has yet to receive a response, the letter said.

Since it is too late to withdraw plans to publish the book, the company had no choice but to remove Chen’s recommendation from the cover, it said, expressing the company’s regret.

In a brief statement posted alongside the image, Chen apologized for causing the Taiwanese publisher trouble and said he is aware of Chinese censorship, especially toward Taiwanese.

“Politics is politics, publishing is publishing,” he wrote.

Chen might have run afoul of Chinese censors because he had previously publicly expressed his support for President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文).

In his statement, Chen also called on the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) to “take a look at Tibet” as it proposes signing a peace treaty with China.

The incident highlights the difference in freedom of speech in Taiwan and China, DPP Legislator Liu Shyh-fang (劉世芳) said.

In Taiwan, excluding cases that contravene defamation laws or other laws, any views that are critical of politicians, such as Tsai or Kaohsiung Mayor Han Kuo-yu (韓國瑜), are protected by freedom of speech, she said.

In contrast, Chinese censorship is not limited to publishing, but also extends to television shows, she said, citing as an example reports that a male entertainer’s ears were blurred out because he was wearing earrings.

DPP Legislator Chuang Ruei-hsiung (莊瑞雄) called the slogans that politicians use to describe Taiwan-China relations, such as “the two sides of the Taiwan Strait are one family,” ironic in light of the incident.

The incident shows that China maintains strict control on published content, DPP Legislator Rosalia Wu (吳思瑤) said.

China has repeatedly attempted to weaken or eliminate Taiwan’s “most precious” values, including freedom of thought, democratic speech and human rights, she said.

Although what happened in Chen’s case is new, similar situations could continue to occur, she added.

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