Cambridge University leaders insist on academic freedom

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von Hans Dembowski

CUP changes stance and stands by China Quarterly

In a U-turn, Cambridge University Press (CUP) yesterday stated that it would make all the essays of its China Quarterly accessible again. This is a good development.

CUP had earlier decided to block access to 300 contributions in the academic journal, which has a strong reputation. The reason was that the Chinese government does not want certain topics to be discussed. These topics include human rights and Tibet, for example. We posted a blog entry on the matter yesterday morning, arguing that the stance taken by CUP was a neglect of duty. A university press must stand by what it publishes and ensure that such content is available to scholars interested in the respective topic.

CUP’s caving in to Chinese censorship caused an uproar internationally. As a response, the leaders of Cambridge University embraced academic freedom and told their publishing branch to reverse the decision. That this has happened is good news. The full story is here. It is deeply worrisome, however, that a publisher with an old and strong reputation such as CUP would not only consider doing an authoritarian government the favour of voluntary censorship, but even start to implement such censorship.



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