censorship; book ban; thought control; China


Abstract: Censorship has become more prevalent in Chinese cultural and social life since the 1989 Tiananmen Square Massacre. Modern commentary on Chinese censorship focuses on news media and Internet, but neglects print books, which is part of a broader crackdown on dissent. To fill this gap, the project aims to map the contours of book censorship in China during the past 30 years. The emphasis is on the Chinese authorities’ increasing attempts to dominate people’s minds under Xi Jinping, who ascended to power as the leader of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) in 2012. The project reveals different levels of censorship, how it works, and what types of books are censored. It examines books published in mainland China and look into how censorship causes them to differ from the same works published in other countries and regions. Based on research on the multiple layers and functions of banning of books with political, cultural, social, and religious references, the project assesses Beijing’s efforts at censorship as a response to international politics on the one hand, and as a strategy of political and social control at home on the other. More specifically, the research indicates that the censorship system helped the Chinese government maintain a degree of stability, but it eroded freedom of expression and laid the foundation for discontent in China and overseas.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.