By Tenzin Dharpo
Tibetan activist Tenzin Dorjee's illustration on the issue.
DHARAMSHALA, Aug. 21: In what many are calling an act of contempt to academic integrity and disregard to free speech, renowned publishing house Cambridge University Press has removed Chinese government sensitive content from its website in China.
CUP on Friday announced that it has removed 300 articles and reviews from the “China Quarterly’ website in China at the behest of the Chinese government. Removed contents include Chinese government sensitive issues ranging from the 1989 crackdown on pro-democracy demonstrations in Tiananmen Square, Tibetan and Uighur ethnic minorities related policy, Taiwan and Mao’s Cultural Revolution.
China’s General Administration of Press and Publication said that they received “instructions” from the Chinese government who warned that if the said content were not removed, the whole website would be banned in China.
However, the move has since attracted backlash and censure from global academic community and other civil society machineries. Many described the move by CUP to be complicit in CCP’s attempt to alter history and shape global perception towards the Chinese government.
Voices from academia, many of them from inside China, condemned the move; Qiao Mu, a former professor at Beijing Foreign Studies University wrote, “The China Quarterly is very reputable within academic circles, and it does not promote the positive energy that China wants to see. Instead, it touches on historical reflection, talks about Cultural Revolution and other errors that China has made in the past. These are things that China does not like and does not want to be discussed.”
Andrew Nathan, who edited the “Papers on Tiananmen” which is among the removed content told Guardian, “If the Press acceded to a Chinese request to block access to selected articles, as I gather is the case, it violated the trust that authors placed in it and has compromised its integrity as an academic publisher.”
China’s state media Global Times
in an editorial wrote, “Western institutions have the freedom to choose. If they don't like the Chinese way, they can stop engaging with us. If they think China's Internet market is so important that they can't miss out, they need to respect Chinese law and adapt to the Chinese way.”
Tibetan activist and Program Director at Tibet Action Institute Tenzin Dorjee wrote, “It marks a new victory for the Chinese dictatorship in its relentless and long term campaign to remake the world in its own perverted image, and a terrifying defeat for academic freedom in the West. If CUP doesn't get held to account for this shameful crime, many other institutions will fall to China's continuing assault on our freedoms.”