23 Aug 2017

Do not help China censor its people's future

This angry letter from a Professor to Cambridge University Press is a masterwork in the dangers of (self-)censorship. You should read the whole thing [pdf backup], but here's an excerpt:
But the still greater concern is that if China Quarterly and then other journals published by Cambridge (such as the Journal of Asian Studies) — powerful institutions with global clout, not vulnerable individuals — just go along with this request to censor scholarship on these topics, will scholars inside or outside China still be eager to work on Taiwan, Tibet, Xinjiang, the Uyghurs, Tian’anmen, Taiwan independence advocates, Liu Xiaobo, the Dalai Lama, Chinese dissidents, Falun Gong and so on? Or will they chose safer subjects? And how should the people who are the subject of these articles feel about Cambridge’s decision to airbrush them from the record? CUP may hide behind the excuse that this is a “pragmatic” decision to preserve “Chinese” access to its less sensitive material, but who the hell gives Cambridge University Press the right to decide that Tibetans, Uyghurs, Hong Kong activists and dissidents of all sorts are less worthy than other content? It is noteworthy that the topics and peoples CUP has so blithely chosen to censor comprise mainly minorities and the politically disadvantaged. Would you censor content about Black Lives Matter, Mexican immigrants or Muslims in your American publication list if Trump asked you to do so? So why do you think it’s fine to cut the oppressed and disenfranchised out of China Quarterly?
Related: A Russia watcher on why the Russians are so passive (and accepting) of Putin's control. I don't think the Chinese have this mindset, which is why I have hope for their future development (via democracy and local power)

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