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Scholars: Refuse to Bow Down to China Censorship Pressure

FILE - A computer user sits near displays with a message from the Chinese police on the proper use of the internet at an internet cafe in Beijing, China, Aug. 19, 2013.

Scholars are using an online petition to urge Cambridge University Press to restore more than 300 politically sensitive articles removed from its website in China after a request from authorities.

Cambridge University Press said Friday that it had complied with a request to block certain articles from The China Quarterly within China. They touch on politically sensitive subjects including the 1989 Tiananmen Square crackdown, the 1966-76 Cultural Revolution and the status of Tibet.

The petition circulating among academics calls on CUP to turn down censorship requests from the Chinese government. It says that academics and universities reserve the right to boycott CUP and related journals if it gives into the Chinese government's demands.

The petition says the academics believe in the free and open exchange of ideas and information and that it is "disturbing... that China is attempting to export its censorship on topics that do not fit its preferred narrative."

By Monday, more than 140 people had signed the 2-day-old petition on

The Global Times newspaper, published by the ruling Communist Party, said in an editorial Monday that China blocks some information on foreign websites that it deems "harmful" to Chinese society, and that CUP has to abide by Chinese law if it sets up a server within China.

If Western institutions "think China's internet market is so important that they can't miss out, they need to respect Chinese law and adapt to the Chinese way," the editorial read.

Cambridge University Press, which is part of the famed British university, said in its Friday statement that it had complied with a request from a Chinese import agency to block individual articles within China to ensure that other materials it publishes would remain available in China.

It added that it was "troubled by the recent increase in requests of this nature'' and intended to discuss the issue with Chinese authorities at the Beijing International Book Fair, which takes place this week.