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British publishers erase 'Taiwanese' from books to appease China

References to Taiwan as a country were removed, while some mentions of 'Taiwanese' were altered to 'East Asian'

A censored book. (Getty Images)

A censored book. (Getty Images)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — British publishers Octopus Books and Quarto have been found to have repeatedly censored references to Taiwan and Taiwanese in multiple books that were printed for a Western audience.

The erasure began in 2020 and was done to ensure their books could be printed at a low cost in China, per a Financial Times report. References to Taiwan as a country were removed in multiple books, and some mentions of “Taiwanese” were altered to “East Asian.”

In one book, a whole section on Taiwan was removed. References to Hong Kong, Tibet, and Chinese dissidents like Ai Weiwei (艾未未) were also removed taken out.

Sources told FT that Octopus and Quarto did in fact print especially sensitive books outside of China, but to keep costs down, it did not do so for all publications.

“(Octopus Books) don’t agree with it on a moral level. But (the company) does not disagree enough to increase the price of (its) books,” an anonymous employee of Octopus’ parent company, Hachette Book Group, told FT.

This is not the first time the publishing industry has been caught self-censoring because of China. In 2017, academic publishers Springer Nature and Cambridge University Press were slammed for blocking hundreds of articles from being opened in the country.