View publishing ban within context

Source:Global Times Published: 2014-10-13 0:38:02

Several verified Weibo accounts exposed claims during the weekend that the media regulator has released an internal notice demanding books authored by Yu Yingshi and Jiubadao (penname of Ke Jingteng) to be taken off the shelves. In addition, material by Ye Fu (penname of Zheng Shiping), Mao Yushi, Zhang Qianfan, Liang Wendao and Xu Zhiyuan will not be published. The incident was compared to "burning books and burying Confucian scholars alive" during the Qin Dynasty (221BC-206BC).

As of press time, the allegation could not be confirmed and no response came from the authorities. But many believe the news has some basis in truth.

The future prospect for publication of books by people on the list is grim. The prediction is based on the fact that some on the list are foreign nationals but active in Chinese politics, including openly supporting Hong Kong's Occupy Central movement or "Taiwan independence." Some are Chinese mainland scholars but are opposed to the country's political system. If these people are subject to some limit from authority, the signal is not unusual to Chinese society.

We cannot provide information to verify the claims, but we can analyze the logic between the speculation and China's political reality. First of all, China's publishing field is more open. Controversial figures also take up certain publishing space. While handling a sensitive part of ideological content, these people need to navigate carefully.

Honestly speaking, in China it takes more than enthusiasm, but also wisdom and sincerity to be engaged in politics. China's reform needs new thinking and driving forces, meanwhile, society keeps vigilant on the formation or invasion of forces that may have subversive power. If one has positioned himself at odds to the country's mainstream political path, he shouldn't expect his influence to keep on rising without disruption.

If these advocators of political dissident culture define themselves as reformers, they should take responsibility for maintaining mainstream politics, not jeopardizing the country's solidarity. If they insist on prioritizing opposing political ideas, they must prepare for pushback from society, which will be unpleasant in most cases.

The consequence for their choice is easy to foresee. "Burning books and burying Confucian scholars alive" will not be repeated today, but zones of sensitivity still exist. They are part of China's reality, which is reserved for securing the country's stable progress. One can't be naïvely idealistic in sensitive zones.

The authorities are also accumulating experience in dealing with politically dissenting authors. It has happened before that books banned by the regulator became bestsellers. On some occasions, the ban only reflects a certain attitude of authority.

In any country, if one seeks confrontation with the mainstream system and expects unimpeded influence, it will become an unrealistic request.

Posted in: Editorial

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