BEIJING (Reuters) - Chinese importers of foreign publications must verify the products are legal, China said on Friday, weeks after a British academic publisher which blocked access to hundreds of scholarly articles in the country reposted the material.
Cambridge University Press (CUP) said in August that it had removed some 300 papers and book reviews published in the China Quarterly journal from its website in China following a request from the Chinese government.
It said it had blocked the articles, which covered sensitive topics, including the 1989 Tiananmen Square democracy protests, the 1960s Cultural Revolution and Tibet, in order to keep its other academic and educational materials available in the country.
The move sparked an outcry from academics, who attacked the decision as an affront to academic freedom. CUP, the publishing arm of Britain’s elite Cambridge University, later reversed its decision and reposted the articles.
China’s State Council Information Office, responding by fax two weeks after a Reuters request for comment, said that publishers choose for themselves to import materials based on market demand and the law.
“All publications imported into China’s market must adhere to Chinese laws and regulations. Publication importers are responsible for checking the content of their imported publications,” it said without elaborating.
It did not mention CUP.
At the time, China’s education ministry, foreign ministry, cyberspace administration and state publishing authority all declined to comment.
The ruling Communist Party’s efforts to censor news and information have sometimes backfired or left outsiders perplexed.
In 2009, software designed to check pornographic and violent images on PCs blocked images of a movie poster for cartoon cat Garfield, dishes of flesh-colour cooked pork and on one search engine a close-up of film star Johnny Depp’s face.
But under President Xi Jinping, Beijing has stepped up censorship, tightened controls on the internet and various aspects of civil society, and reasserted party authority over academia and other institutions.
Reporting by Michael Martina; Editing by Nick Macfie