Professor Says Threats Of Retaliation By China Stopped Publication Of His Book Revealing Chinese Influence In Australia

from the expect-much-more-of-this dept

We've just written about how the Chinese government wanted to censor articles published by two academic publishers, Cambridge University Press (CUP) and Springer. After an initial wobble, CUP ultimately refused, while Springer by contrast decided to kowtow to the authorities. Those incidents concerned the publication in China of articles the Chinese didn't like. Now it seems the latter are extending their campaign against inconvenient facts to other countries, in this case Australia:

Prominent Charles Sturt University academic Clive Hamilton said Allen & Unwin was ready to publish his manuscript Silent Invasion, but last week informed him it could no longer proceed because it was worried about defamation action.

"Allen & Unwin said that they were worried about retaliation from Beijing through a number of possible avenues including legal threats, orchestrated by Beijing, and they decided it was too big a risk and so therefore pulled the plug and returned the rights to me," Professor Hamilton said.

As the article on ABC News explains, "Silent Invasion" is about the Chinese Communist Party's activities and growing influence in Australia -- obviously a highly sensitive topic for China. In an email to the company, obtained by ABC News, Professor Hamilton's former publishers, Allen & Unwin, wrote about what it saw as "potential threats" if it published his book:

The most serious of these threats was the very high chance of a vexatious defamation action against Allen & Unwin, and possibly against you personally as well.

It's a little hard to see how an entire nation might sue successfully for defamation, but that's not the point. Once again, the mere threat of litigation was enough to cause someone -- in this case a publisher -- to self-censor. Interestingly, the ABC News article notes that the Australian government is expected to unveil soon new legislation to counter foreign interference in the country, which suggests that it is becoming a serious problem. We can expect more such attempts to censor overseas sources of information it doesn't like from the increasingly self-confident and intransigent China.

Follow me @glynmoody on Twitter or, and +glynmoody on Google+

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