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 permit.
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.
Sam Sedgman, a pro-censorship writer commented n the Guardian:
Self-proclaimed super-villain Yiannopoulos has made a living from saying and doing hateful things, and has successfully embroiled himself in numerous headline-grabbing controversies. Whether it's saying that gay rights have made us dumber
, calling transgender people mentally ill , calling rape culture a fantasy , or being banned by Twitter for allegedly encouraging trolls to attack Ghostbusters actor Leslie Jones with a tirade of racist and sexist abuse, you can
usually find him saying something pathologically awful.
So when a major publishing house pays $250,000 to print the work of an alt-right figurehead like him, it gives credence to these ideas, and makes them part of the mainstream. It endorses them. It empowers everyone who agrees with them to act on
their worst impulses, and spread hate speech.
Offsite Comment: English PEN backs Milo Yiannopoulos' 'right to offend'
However English PEN is a campaign group that believes in free speech without the buts. The group writes:
English PEN has said Milo Yiannopoulos' right to freedom of expression must be respected, amid the furore surrounding the far-right editor's lucrative book deal with Simon & Schuster US.
Offensive ideas should be debunked and discredited, not censored, said Robert Sharp, head of campaigns and communications for the free speech organisation. He added that demands for S&S US to cancel the deal were tantamount to censorship
The right of Mr Yiannopoulos to write and to offend is integral to the principle of freedom of expression, said Sharp. Likewise, Simon & Schuster US has the right to make an editorial judgment over whether to publish his book.
Demanding that the publisher cancels the book deal amounts to a call for censorship, and should be resisted.
The German publisher of a special annotated edition of Adolf Hitler's Mein Kampf says sales have soared since its launch a year ago.
About 85,000 German-language copies have been sold. Publisher Andreas Wirsching said the figures overwhelmed us . At the end of January the publisher will launch a sixth print run.
Unlike the Nazi-era editions, this edition of Mein Kampf (My Struggle) has a plain white cover - without a picture of Hitler, and includes copious notes by scholars.
The BBC adds the 'balance' that 85,00 copies does not make the book a runaway hit . The BBC's Damien McGuinness in Berlin writes:
The fact that the Nazi manifesto reached number one in Der Spiegel's non-fiction charts in April is cited as evidence that Adolf Hitler's propaganda is making a comeback in Germany.
For a German non-fiction book sales of 85,000 are not bad. But the figures don't indicate a runaway hit. The current biggest non-fiction seller is The Hidden Life of Trees, a book about the ecosystem of woodland, which has sold half a
million copies so far.