“Five years on from Cambridge University Press’ controversial compliance with a Chinese government request to make more than 300 articles unavailable to Chinese readers, publishers are increasingly self-censoring content on ‘sensitive’ topics….
The issue came to light five years ago, when it emerged in the UK’s national press that Cambridge University Press (CUP) had removed “sensitive” content from its prestigious China studies journal, China Quarterly. Since then, other publishers have faced similar accusations of bowing to pressure from Beijing. Springer Nature has restricted access to more than 1,000 articles, while Taylor & Francis, Sage Publishing and Brill have navigated strict content restrictions.
Although some publishers have found routes to navigate these restrictions without self-censoring their online platforms, others appear to be more deeply enmeshed in China’s censorship apparatus – and in recent years, the access constraints facing so-called controversial papers have gone much further than many believe, straying beyond familiar red-flag topics on an unprecedented scale.
By comparing UK-based and China-based IP addresses and the content discrepancies between the two, I’ve managed to gain some handle on the scale of publication data that is now inaccessible in China. My analysis suggests that more than 28,000 records of publication have been suppressed on publisher platforms accessible by Chinese scholars or the public….”