The C.U.P.’s decision to stand up to censorship made me feel pumped for a second, but then worried me. Without any leverage on the authoritarian state, foreign publications can only score moral victories by defying requests for partial self-censorship, while risking total censorship from the authorities.In the past four years, whenever I went home to Beijing, I was blessed with a V.P.N. from an Ivy League university, which not only gave me access to the indispensable Facebook and Gmail but also provided me with many key online library resources that made some of my research work possible. However, I also know that my friends at Chinese universities do not usually enjoy abundant academic resources in English because most of their coursework does not involve looking up foreign publications. Therefore, in China, foreign publications have a niche readership—the students and scholars who engage with English materials in their fields and whose institutions are willing to foot the relatively expensive bill for articles in foreign academic publications.Practically speaking, censoring 315 China Quarterly articles on certain “sensitive topics” does far less damage than lying about them in schoolbooks and sanitizing history on Chinese media. After all, the purpose of making these 315 articles available in China is not to teach 1.3 billion people the truths that they deserve to know; these articles would be lucky to have as many as 130 readers in China. And even the Chinese academics who do read the China Quarterly are not very likely to base their research on any of the English articles that cover “sensitive topics.” Just imagine a Chinese scholar applying for Chinese state funding from a Chinese university to buy access to academic papers that present the latest findings by unfriendly foreigners that hurt the feelings of the Chinese people.
Source: Should Publications Compromise to Remain in China? | ChinaFile