Moral superiority undue in journal spat

By Shan Renping Source:Global Times Published: 2017/8/24 21:23:40

Illustration: Liu Rui/GT



Under the pressure from criticism in Western media,, Cambridge University Press reversed course Monday and restored access to more than 300 journal articles in the China Quarterly it had blocked in response to what it said was a request from Chinese government censors.

At the same time, the Association for Asian Studies said that it had also faced pressure from China, which made a similar request concerning about 100 articles from the Journal of Asian Studies affiliated with the association.

The mainstream Western media have covered the issue extensively. Actually, the China Quarterly and the Journal of Asian Studies have a very narrow readership. It does not matter too much if those articles are blocked or could be accessed.

It is a reality in China that authorities care about the content of publications. Generally, China is not so sensitive as to interfere in foreign presses. It is better to manage domestic opinion sphere well.

We would welcome it if Western opinion-makers could talk about China objectively. But we can also withstand any provocations on China's sensitive affairs. China has the technology to minimize their impact on Chinese society. When necessary, it can block information from the Chinese public to avoid accusations and debates.

Cambridge University Press has behaved in a vulgar way. It perhaps thought highly of the Chinese market, so it blocked some sensitive articles from its Chinese website. It showed flexibility in this regard. Now that the editor of the China Quarterly revealed the issue, Western media rushed to impose pressure on the journal with their so-called political correctness. So Cambridge University Press changed course and restored the blocked articles.

For Cambridge University Press, exploring the Chinese market was important. After Western opinion-makers made a fuss, retaining its status in Western society became more important. Its decisions were based on its calculation of its own interests.

No matter how Western media reported it, China will not change. It has made a number of laws to maintain the country's information security. All foreign institutions which want to explore the Chinese market and expand their influence must obey Chinese laws. This principle matters to China's major interests and will not be compromised for any foreign organization or any external forces.

The era of information globalization has just emerged, and the Internet sphere keeps changing. China has been learning about how to manage its public opinion sphere and how to get along with the outside world. But it is worth noting that during this process, China does not mean to offend the outside world but only to defend its own security.

The fuss Western media made over this issue exposes that some Westerners are more sensitive than Chinese society and lack the flexibility to communicate with the outside world. Their "principles" and "correctness" cannot adapt to certain circumstances. It may be because the confidence of the whole of Western society has been eroded and some Westerners are full of anxiety and regard any frictions with a rising China as important.

No matter what Cambridge University Press decides to do, the decision does not matter to China very much. We don't know why it matters so much to some Westerners. Many Western information institutions entered and stayed in China, while some chose to leave. China has already adapted to this process, and so have many Westerners. During this process, the opinion sphere has reached a new balance.

The author is a commentator with the Chinese edition of the Global Times. opinion@globaltimes.com.cn Follow us on Twitter @GTopinion



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