In the next step in the Chinese government's quest for total thought control it has issued a ban on the sale of foreign publications without an import
The new rules came into effect on the online shopping platform Taobao on Friday banning sellers from offering overseas publications. Taobao said the change, which also includes foreign services relating to publications, will enter into
force on March 10, 2017.
An employee who answered the phone at Taobao said the ban included books, movies, and games that hadn't already been given government approval:
If it comes from overseas, then basically, it's not allowed, for the time being at least. Any imported publications will need an import certificate under this system, and they need to be reported to the authorities. Only then can they be sold.
Pan Lu, of the Hubei-based rights group Rose China, said the administration of President Xi Jinping is currently tightening control over every aspect of public discourse. Pan said:
They are clamping down on ideology and public opinion. They can't afford to allow a pluralistic value system to seep into China via the consumer market for foreign publications.
The Chinese Communist Party is terrified that its own single-party ideology is bankrupt, and it is trying to shore up its grip on power by controlling what people think.
Hangzhou-based writer Zan Aizong said the new rules would make it much harder for people to get hold of foreign literature:
This will mean that people will have to resort to selling it on the quiet, because if you are found at the border to have political books in your bag, you will be detained, Zan said.
It's very hard to get books into the country from overseas.
He said the only option left will be to try to download e-books from outside the complex network of blocks, filters, and human censorship known as the Great Firewall.
For the unenlightened I should explain that a sensitivity reader, or beta reader, is a person employed by a publisher to vet an author's works with the aim of identifying and excising any material that might be deemed offensive. Once limited to
children's fiction, sensitivity readers are now being enlisted to monitor works intended for adult consumption.
Riptide Publishing explains more in a recruitment advert:
Riptide Publishing, a publisher of the finest LGBTQ fiction, is hiring paid sensitivity readers. Our SRs will read manuscripts during developmental edits with an eye toward any potentially inaccurate, inauthentic, insulting,
misrepresentative, harmful, or *-ist themes, phrases, or actions in the text.
Sensitivity readers must be a part of the culture(s) or identity/identities they are reading for.
We need readers in all areas of racial, ethnic, and religious diversity, sexual and gender orientation, and mental and physical illnesses and disabilities.
Book publisher Simon & Schuster has announced that it has pulled out of its contract to publish Dangerous
, a book by Milo Yiannopoulos, a notable figure form America's Alt-Right movement. The company said in a statement that:
After careful consideration, Simon & Schuster and its Threshold Editions imprint have cancelled publication.
According to the New York Times, Yiannopoulos will seek another publisher. His agent is quoted as saying that 50,000 copies of Dangerous have been pre-sold.
Simon & Schuster had been put under pressure for its decision to publish Yiannopoulos. The Chicago Review of Books protested the signing by announcing that it would not review any Simon & Schuster books for the next year, and The Booksmith in San
Francisco declared that it would cut its purchases of Simon & Schuster titles by 50% and contribute the profits from the sale of the publisher's other books to the ACLU. One hundred and sixty Simon & Schuster children's authors and illustrators
protested in a letter to company CEO Carolyn Reidy about the book's acquisition.
The American Booksellers Association joined a statement by the National Coalition Against Censorship that opposed a boycott of Simon & Schuster. While acknowledging that boycotts are a form of speech that is protected by the First Amendment, the
statement warned that efforts to damage a publisher with economic sanctions could have a chilling effect, limiting its ability to publish controversial works. The statement was also signed by the Association of American Publishers, Authors Guild, Comic
Book Legal Defense Fund, Freedom to Read Foundation, Index on Censorship, and the National Council of Teachers of English.