Bowing to Pressure from China, a Scientific Publisher Censors Itself


The academic publisher Springer Nature has blocked access to at least 1,000 articles in China, a move the country’s government pushed for in order to tighten controls on information.

Springer Nature blocked access in China to articles relating to the 1989 protests in Tiananmen Square. Visual: Luis Castaneda Inc./Getty

Most of the censored material, which was removed from the journal International Politics as well as the Journal of Chinese Political Science, related to politically sensitive topics like the Chinese Cultural Revolution, the 1989 protests in Tiananmen Square, and the status of Taiwan and Tibet, among others.

Though the decision has prompted outrage, Springer Nature, which publishes prominent magazines and journals like Scientific American and Nature, has defended its decision by saying the entire SpringerLink website may have otherwise been blocked.

Cambridge University Press, a British publisher, faced similar criticism in August when it removed 300 articles and book reviews on the same topics from the China Quarterly website available in the China. The publisher reversed its decision three days later.

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