Two publishers from the United Kingdom have reportedly censored books for Western audiences in order to maintain their ability to have books printed cheaply in China.
Octopus Books and Quatro have allegedly removed references to topics deemed off-limits by the Chinese Communist Party, such as Taiwan and Tibet, from books intended for readers outside of China because of their desire to maintain printing contracts in the country.
The Financial Times claims to have obtained documents proving that the two publishers made stealth edits to books. According to the paper, Octopus has removed references to Taiwan in at least two books and in another instance censored an entire section about the nation.
The report also claims that Quarto removed references to famed Hong Kong dissident artist Ai Weiwei from bestseller This Book is Anti-Racist. Quarto also allegedly edited works to change references to Taiwanese nationality to “East Asian” and altered texts on the issue of Tibet to fall in line with Beijing’s claim that it has always been the territory of China, despite its previous independence prior to the 1951 annexation by Mao Zedong’s forces.
A spokesman for Quatro denied that they had made any changes at the request of Chinese printers but said that the company has a “fiduciary duty to act in the best interests of our shareholders” and therefore will continue to work with Chinese suppliers.
A spokesman for Octopus Books told the paper that books with sensitive topics are still printed outside of China and that any edits to books “are not material and we always ask the permission of the author first to check they are comfortable to proceed”.