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China pressures university publications to censor content

People look at books at the Cambridge University Press (CUP) stall at the Beijing International Book Fair in Beijing, China, 23 August 2017
People look at books at the Cambridge University Press (CUP) stall at the Beijing International Book Fair in Beijing, China, 23 August 2017

REUTERS/Thomas Peter

This statement was originally published on ifj.org on 24 August 2017.

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) applauds the China Quarterly, a publication of the Cambridge University Press (CUP) for fearlessly reposting 315 articles that it had earlier been forced to take down by the Chinese authorities. Unfortunately, another prestigious publication and computer science company has been subjected to a similar clampdown.

Last week, the China Quarterly, a Cambridge University Press (CUP) publication, revealed that it had been facing continuous pressure from the Chinese authorities. The editors were forced to block access to 315 articles dating from the contemporary back to the 1960s. Access to a thousand e-books was also similarly blocked. An immediate outcry from the academic community led more than one 1,000 scholars to sign a petition in protest, and widespread international condemnation followed.

On August 20, 2017, the CUP decided to repost all the deleted articles on their official websites. The Chinese authorities did not respond to charges of censorship, but the editorial of the Global Times, the sister paper of the official People's Daily, insisted that the act was carried out to maintain China's "sovereignty".

On August 23, editors of the Journal of Asian Studies, another prestigious publication, confirmed in the media that Chinese authorities had forced them to delete around 100 articles, and LexisNexis, a provider of legal regulatory and business information, confirmed that its subsidiary company in Mainland China, LexisNexis Business Insight Solutions, had received a notice from the Chinese authorities demanding that Nexis and LexisNexis Academic be removed from their list of products by the coming March. The report did not state the reason.

The IFJ said: "The attempt to supress and censor publication of research data and critical thought is an extremely worrying trend. A handful of people wielding power has been totally ignoring the rights of the Chinese people to access diverse and critical information, under the pretext of 'preserving rule of law' or 'maintaining China's sovereignty'. Such misuse of power must stop, and the public be allowed to exercise its right to know."

The IFJ urged people all over the world who treasure freedom of expression to voice their concern when these rights are breached, and stand in solidarity to defend these rights.

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