All societies limit free speech in varying detail, writes Roger van Zwanenberg, founder of the radical publisher Zed. The censorship is by the customer – the Chinese government – not CUP, says Jessica Lagan
I refer to Paul Mason’s important, but mistaken argument about Cambridge University Press’s agreement with the Chinese authorities to delete 300 articles from China Quarterly (Cambridge University Press had to reverse its self-censorship in China: the west can’t afford to collude with Xi’s assault on truth, G2, 22 August). All societies have their own particular sensibilities; many have positions of sacredness. All societies limit free speech in varying detail. Paul Mason knows this. Western societies are currently limiting criticism of the state of Israel and your editorial of 22 August, discusses limiting free speech regarding hate crime online – rightly so, in my view. These are our sensibilities right now.
I would love Paul Mason to discuss and explain China’s political sensitivities so we could understand them better. As a founder of Zed press who has worked with authors who have lost their jobs because of the books we have published, I have some experience in this field. I don’t believe that bullying or lecturing other societies with different histories leads anywhere.
Roger van Zwanenberg