CHINA / SOCIETY
Amazon removes book on epidemic response, 'deprives US policymakers of self-reflection opportunity'
Published: Mar 04, 2021 10:49 PM
Capitalism on a Ventilator. Photo: Screenshot from Amazon

Capitalism on a Ventilator. Photo: Screenshot from Amazon



A book that surveyed and compared the US' and China's reaction to the COVID-19 pandemic was recently removed from Amazon, the top ecommerce platform in the US, a move that again revealed the US' biased attitude on the "freedom of speech" it claims, observers said. 

The banned book is titled Capitalism on a Ventilator: The Impact of COVID-19 in China & the US. As is suggested by the title, the book deals with the two countries' different attitudes toward the pandemic, highlighting the US' lack of social support infrastructure in contrast to its huge spending on military, police and prison infrastructure. 

"Amazon bans Capitalism on a Ventilator, a book of essays by prominent anti-imperialists. The book surveyed the role of capitalism in exacerbating the pandemic and contrasted China's effective response with the US failure - too much for Amazon, apparently," wrote Max Blumenthal, an American independent journalist and online influencer on Twitter on Wednesday. 

The book was found not available on Amazon as early as November 2020. Its publication date is September 24, 2020.

On Amazon, the book is listed as "out of print - limited availability." However, publishers said the book was never "out of print," and is available from the publisher's website. 

World View Forum, the publisher of the book, received a message from Amazon on September 24, 2020, the debut day of the book on Amazon, saying the book "does not comply with [Amazon's] guideline," reported Workers World website. 

World View Forum immediately tried to reverse Amazon's decision and provided layers of authentication of information, to which Amazon never replied.

China has reported 89,943 confirmed COVID-19 cases and 4,636 deaths as of March 4, whereas the US has reported 28,760,878 cases and 518,459 deaths, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. Although the US is still suffering from the epidemic seriously, its politicians and media have kept smearing China's anti-epidemic achievements.

In the comments section of the listing page on Amazon, users expressed their anger at Amazon's move.

"Did Amazon ban this book? Pathetic." wrote one user. 

"Why is Amazon censoring out buying choices and what we can read?" questioned another reader. 

Influential platforms like Amazon choosing to defy the truth in such events in order to pander to the American political elite violates the principle of objectivity and independence, Li Haidong, a professor at the Institute of International Relations of the China Foreign Affairs University, told the Global Times on Thursday. 

"More importantly, it deprives the American public and policymakers of the opportunity for self-reflection," Li said. 

"When commercial giants like Amazon, ostensibly unrelated to politics, also join the system of restricting speech, ordinary users' voices and information reception will be more systematically repressed," Li noted. "This will cause irreversible damage to the future reflection and adjustment of American society."

Regarding the delisting, the Global Times contacted Amazon for comment on Thursday. A staff member of customer service said they were unclear about the delisting.
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