Over 300 potentially sensitive The China Quarterly articles blocked by Cambridge University Press (CUP) from its website in China will be reinstated immediately, as the British publisher reverses its earlier stance on a Chinese censorship request.
“Following a meeting with officers from CUP, The China Quarterly has been informed that CUP intends to repost immediately the articles from its website in China,” said Tim Pringle, editor of The China Quarterly.
Pringle said the decision from CUP comes “after a justifiably intense reaction from the global academic community and beyond.” Some 315 articles had been blocked by the publisher, without the consent of The China Quarterly, following a request from a Chinese import agency. CUP had been widely criticised for caving to China’s demands, and pressure mounted from academics around the world, including the threat of an academic boycott from a 726-signature petition on change.org, which stated “If Cambridge University Press acquiesces to the demands of the Chinese government, we as academics and universities reserve the right to pursue other actions including boycotts of Cambridge University Press and related journals.”
China is an important market for CUP: the firm’s English Language Teaching division has enjoyed double-digit year-on-year growth for the last five years in China, through close collaboration with Chinese publishers, large private education service providers, leading foreign language schools and new education technology companies, CUP says in its latest annual report.
Chinese academics will now have access to the full The China Quarterly library, including Andrew Nathan’s seminal 2004 work “The Tiananmen Papers Revisited” and Sebastian Veg’s 2017 “The Rise of ‘Localism’ and Civic Identity in Posthandover Hong Kong: Questioning the Chinese Nation-state”, a paper which argues that civic-based identification with a local democratic community is becoming increasingly incompatible with the ethnic and cultural definition of the Chinese nation that is now being promoted by the Beijing government.