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Cambridge stares down China on censorship

The Cambridge University Press had blocked the articles in The China Quarterly, a leading journal of Chinese studies.

world Updated: Aug 22, 2017 18:05 IST
Prasun Sonwalkar
Prasun Sonwalkar
Hindustan Times, London
University of Cambridge,censorship in China,The China Quarterly
This is not the first time that the university faced allegations of censorship.(Reuters File)

After initially following an order from China to block more than 315 research articles on issues such as the 1989 pro-democracy protests in Tiananmen Square, the University of Cambridge has reinstated the blocked content on the ground of academic freedom.

The Cambridge University Press had blocked thearticles in The China Quarterly, a leading journal of Chinese studies. The block led to protests, an online petition and calls for boycotting the universityfrom academics in the West and other countries, including India.

On Monday, a university spokesperson told Hindustan Times: “Following a clear order from its Chinese importer, Cambridge University Press reluctantly took the decision to block, within China, 315 articles in The China Quarterly.

“This decision was taken as a temporary measure pending discussion with the academic leadership of the University of Cambridge, and pending a scheduled meeting with the Chinese importer in Beijing. The academic leadership of the University has now reviewed this action…”

The spokesperson added, “Academic freedom is the overriding principle on which the University of Cambridge is based.Therefore, while this temporary decision was taken in order to protect short-term access in China to the vast majority of the Press’s journal articles, the university’s academic leadership and the Press have agreed to reinstate the blocked content, with immediate effect, so as to uphold the principle of academic freedom on which the university’s work is founded.”

Academics welcomed the rebuff to Beijing by the university, but reports from China suggested the decision to reinstate the block content has not been circulated within the country.

The university faced allegations of censorship in February, when its academic, Priyamvada Gopal, accused it of censoring her views on Jammu and Kashmir in her article in the university’s alumni magazine.

First Published: Aug 22, 2017 18:05 IST