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What is a Bigger Crime, Censorship or Self-censorship?

In China writers are forced to work in a grey area where the rules change without notice.

By Edward Nawotka
One biggest problems for Chinese writers is self-censorship, says Murong Xuecun: “It’s something that haunts me when I write…sometimes when I read over a text I realize that I’ve already modified it.”

China maintains very strict censorship controls on it’s media and publishers. But the scene is evolving — albeit slowly — and publishers and writers are forced to operate in a gray area, where things that are tolerated one day are deemed illegal the next. This leaves many authors in an untenable position.

Self-censorship is a shame, but when individual agency can lead to, well, end of the individual…you want to live to fight another day, don’t you? When it’s the state that puts someone into that position, it’s indefensible.

Let us know what you think in the comments.

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  1. Posted February 17, 2012 at 5:07 am | Permalink

    The speach of Murong Xuecun on censorship is worth reading, it has been published by New York Times (23/2/2011) http://www.nytimes.com/2011/02/24/opinion/24iht-edmurong24.html?pagewanted=all
    and underlines the discussions between writer and publisher.
    On self censorship among the writers I have interviewed on http://www.mychinesebooks.com Yan Lianke is the most interesting specially as he has seen most of his books censored !
    Other writers are playing with the limits; Yu Hua is specially talented, he gets in the West the reputation of being very critical (specially on articles or books which are only published outside China !) but read “Brothers”, you will not find the word Communist Party in 700 pages !
    Mo Yan is not interested, he knows the censors do not dare to touch him; moreover he plays with history, rural society and metaphors…”Life and death are wearing me out” is certainly more politically incorrect that what Murong Xuecun has published !

  2. Posted February 20, 2012 at 11:52 am | Permalink

    They should all be reading Vaclav Havel.

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