British Publishers Self Censor to Maintain Ties with China
Photo by Ajay Suresh — Creative CommonsThe Financial Times reported that two British publishing houses are removing content the CCP finds objectionable to allow their books, intended for western distribution, to be printed in China. Octopus Books and Quarto have stripped references to Taiwan and Hong Kong and altered character nationalities, changing Taiwanese to “East Asian.” Mentions of dissident artist Ai Weiwei were also deleted. Changes came after Chinese suppliers said they could not, by law, print the original versions.
Other publishing houses, such as US printing company RR Donnelley & Sons, have faced similar pressures. The company authored a memo highlighting restrictions from its Chinese printers on mentions of human rights abuses in Xinjiang and Covid-19 origins.
While some alternate printing locations are employed, price pressures prevent publishing houses from relocating their entire catalog. A spokesperson for Quarto stated the company had “a fiduciary duty to act in the best interests of our shareholders.” Octopus Books said changes made “are not material and we always ask the permission of the author first to check they are comfortable to proceed.”