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Censorship and conscience: Foreign authors and the challenge of Chinese censorship

At a Beijing bookstore
At a Beijing bookstore

AP Photo/Ng Han Guan

This statement was originally published on on 20 May 2015.

Many Western authors, agents, and publishers have not paid close attention to what happens to their books when published in China, to the point where many are not even aware that they have been censored, PEN American Center says today in a new report. Other authors have willingly or tacitly agreed to censorship, including cuts that satisfy Chinese censors' aim of deflecting attention and awareness from historically significant events like China's Great Famine during the Cultural Revolution.

Released just a week before BookExpo America (BEA) - the publishing industry's largest U.S. trade show - opens at New York's Javits Center on May 27 with a focus on China's fast-growing book market, Censorship and Conscience: Foreign Authors and the Challenge of Chinese Censorship illustrates an under-explored dimension of China's massive censorship machine: the censorship of some of the thousands of international titles published annually in China.

The report is part of a PEN campaign to tackle censorship and other free expression violations in China - where the Committee to Protect Journalists documents at least 44 writers are currently in prison. Under the slogan "Governments Make Bad Editors," the campaign will also include a Shadow Expo during BookExpo America 2015 to counter the aggressive propaganda presented by the state-sponsored delegation in its China-focused events. A May 26 panel discussion, "Censored in China: Dissident Writers Speak Out," and a Rally for Silenced Chinese Writers the following day will feature PEN's own delegation of leading Chinese literary dissidents and acclaimed American authors to spotlight some of China's silenced writers and demand the release of the all those jailed in China for their words.

Download the report.
china_censorship_conscience_penamerican.pdf (1822 KB)

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