China orders stricter controls on Taiwanese books

Staff writer, with CNA

Sat, Jan 25, 2014 - Page 1

Chinese authorities have ordered stricter controls of books and magazines from Taiwan and Hong Kong, local media reports said, adding that the new policy aims to get rid of content deemed vulgar or “politically detrimental.”

Editors-in-chief at major Chinese publishing companies last month received a directive from China’s media regulator — the State General Administration of Press Publications, Radio, Film and Television — which said that book publishing will be subject to more stringent controls.

Taking effect immediately, it required books from Taiwan and Hong Kong to be censored more strictly.

A Chinese publisher, who declined to be named, confirmed earlier this week that he received the state agency’s order last month, which bans publication of books on feng shui and fortune-telling, and tightens controls on books originating in Taiwan and Hong Kong.

The publisher said his company stopped publishing books on practices like feng shui, adding that the Chinese media regulator likely barred publication of those books over concerns that they could fuel public discontent amid reports of rampant official corruption.

Despite the apparent crackdown, the media regulator has not come up with a list of off-limits books or authors from Taiwan or Hong Kong, a Beijing source familiar with the matter said.

Censorship has also been tightened on books by writers from China, the source said.

“We don’t know how long this strict policy will remain in place. We can only expect to wait a long time before getting the green light for publishing any specific book on our list,” the source said.

A Taiwanese publisher, who wished not to be named, said that some Hong Kong publishers and book distributors have begun self-censorship.

“Some Hong Kong bookstore owners have politely declined to put Taiwanese books on sensitive Chinese politics on their bookshelves, and others only agree to display such books in less noticeable areas,” the publisher said.