What Writers Can & Can’t Write

Global Times describes the capricious demands of China’s censors and the various methods, from self-censorship to self-publishing, by which writers work around them.

The manuscript of a book usually needs to be reviewed at least three times by the publishing house. Depending on the subject matter the General Administration of Press and Publications (GAPP), various propaganda departments and other government agencies may also be involved in the approval process. Television and movie productions require the approval of the State Administration for Radio, Film and Television (SARFT) ….

“I stay away from sensitive topics, because I don’t want my work to go to waste, nor do I want to be forced to say what I don’t intend,” said Qiu.

Qiu said he has turned down requests to write about China’s civil war. His father was on the side of the communists, while his in-laws supported the nationalists. “I know quite a bit about both sides, but I can’t write about it in a way I would approve of myself,” he said.

“It’s not possible to comply with the rules and stay true to yourself,” said Shi Kang, whose novel Fendou (Struggle), about the post-1980s generation, was made into a popular TV series. “We are the mouth and throat of the government, have to be,” he said fatefully.

See also Murong Xuecun on the “absurdities” of Chinese censorship, and another Global Times article on censorship of imported materials, via CDT.


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