Two British publishers have censored books intended for western readers to ensure they can be printed cheaply in China, in the latest instance of companies yielding to Beijing’s restrictions on free speech.
Octopus Books, part of literary empire Hachette, and London-listed Quarto have removed references to Taiwan and other subjects banned by Chinese authorities from several books, according to two people familiar with the matter.
The revelations follow a string of censorship controversies in the publishing sector. In 2017, academic publishers Springer Nature and Cambridge University Press were criticised after it emerged they had each blocked hundreds of articles from being accessed in China.
But evidence obtained by the Financial Times gives the first indication that books sold in the west are also being amended to appease Beijing.
Since 2020 Octopus, a self-described “leading publisher of non-fiction”, has removed references in at least two books to Taiwan, a democratic nation that China claims as its territory. In one case, an entire section relating to Taiwan was cut.