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Book Publishers Warn of Censorship in Hong Kong


FILE - A worker walks past a stack of books by former Beijing mayor Chen Xitong, titled "Conversation with Chen Xitong," at a publisher's warehouse, one day before the launch of the book in Hong Kong.

FILE - A worker walks past a stack of books by former Beijing mayor Chen Xitong, titled "Conversation with Chen Xitong," at a publisher's warehouse, one day before the launch of the book in Hong Kong.

Book publishers and authors are warning that censorship is increasing in Hong Kong. They say bookstores are returning books connected to authors who have been involved in the recent pro-democracy protests.

Bookstores are reportedly under pressure to not carry books that may offend the central government in mainland China.

Carmen Kwong Wing-suen is the chief editor of the book publishing company Up Publications. She said her company had hundreds of books returned by Sino United Publishing, which oversees several other publishing companies.

Ms. Kwong co-wrote a book on the Occupy Central protests. She said the book received orders for only 28 copies instead of the normal 200 copies. She also said most of the books recently returned by Sino United Publishing were not about political topics.

Sino United Publishing operates 51 stores through its subsidiaries. Company officials say each store owner makes his or her own decision about which titles to carry.

Bruce Lui Ping-kuen is a former reporter and now teaches journalism at Hong Kong's Baptist University. He said the rejection of books by publishers supportive of the pro-democracy movement is part of the increased censorship in the city.

“I think looking at the book censorship case in a way it’s a reflection of the differences between censorship in Hong Kong and the censorship we have under one country, two systems," he said.

Mr. Lui also said censoring books from publishers supportive of the pro-democracy movement is an example of “creative ways to limit or stop voices that are hostile to the Communist Party.”

David Bandurski is a researcher at the University of Hong Kong’s China Media Project. He said censorship is becoming more widespread in Hong Kong, from print media to broadcast media. He said friends in the media industry tell him about the difficulties they face when trying to cover sensitive news.

"Because I have a lot of friends working in the industry who discuss with me quite a lot. Sometimes, when they want to do some kind of sensitive news, especially on mainland China, then their boss will use all kinds of excuses to block them or give them more difficulties in doing so.”

VOA’s Shannon Van Sant reported this story from Hong Kong. Staff members wrote it for Learning English. Mario Ritter was the editor.

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Words in This Story:

censorshipn. the system or practice of removing books, movies, letters, etc., that officials consider offensive, immoral, or harmful to society

subsidiaryn. a company that is owned or controlled by another company

creativeadj. done in an unusual and often dishonest way

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