Australia’s largest independent book publisher is believed to have succumbed to intimidation by “Beijing’s agents of influence,” and decided against publishing a book, critical of the Chinese regime’s influence in Australia, at the eleventh hour.
Author Clive Hamilton reveals this is the first time in Australian history that a foreign power has stopped publication of a book that criticizes it.
Dr. Hamilton’s publication, Silent Invasion: How China Is Turning Australia into a Puppet State, reveals the “frightening extent of communist influence” in Australia.
The publisher, Allen & Unwin, who’s published several books for Dr. Hamilton in the past, surprisingly put the brakes on just before the book was set to hit the printers.
“Last week Allen & Unwin did express some legal concerns but despite that I thought they were resolved to publish it, so it was a complete shock,” Hamilton told Guardian Australia.
“This really is a watershed in the debate over China’s suppression of free speech,” Hamilton said. “What we’re seeing … is the first instance where a major Western publisher has decided to censor material of the Chinese Communist Party in its home country.”
“The book is of enormous public interest … and we as Australians living in a free society should not allow ourselves to be bullied into silence by an autocratic foreign power,” Hamilton, an Order of Australia recipient, told ABC.
“If you’re going to analyze how Beijing is influencing Australian society and politics you have to analyze that activity of individuals and name names, and that’s what I’ve done,” Hamilton said. “It has been meticulously researched.”
There are speculations that the publisher has received legal threats against it, were it to proceed with publishing the book. Such threats could turn into a vexatious, expensive, and long-term legal defamation case taken against both the publisher and author.
In light of this reality, Dr. Hamilton commented, “I can’t stop an authoritarian foreign power exploiting our defamation laws to suppress criticism of it.”
“The Chinese government seeks to use the West’s legal systems against the West,” informed a former senior national security official, as reported by SMH.
Jennifer Zeng, a Chinese forced-labor-camp survivor, was “shocked” at the Australian publisher’s timidity in their own country.
“It seems to me that things are really deteriorating in Australia in terms of the CCP’s ‘Silent Invasion,’ wrote Zeng, author of the book “Witnessing History: one woman’s fight for freedom and Falun Gong,” which was published by Allen & Unwin in 2005.
The Chinese consulate and Allen & Unwin did not answer “repeated calls” to their offices the day after the book publisher pulled out, according to RFA.
Allen & Unwin did make an announcement, however, that they have “enormous respect” for Dr. Hamilton and his work. But, “after extensive legal advice we decided to delay publication of Clive’s book Silent Invasion until certain matters currently before the courts have been decided. Clive was unwilling to delay publication and requested the return of his rights, as he is entitled to do. We continue to wish him the best of luck with the book.”
Despite that, Dr. Hamilton stressed, ”The reason they’ve decided not to publish this book is the very reason the book needs to be published.”
Whilst China’s obsession with censorship extends globally, it’s most tightly controlled in the PRC. Weeks ago, an international scientific publisher, Springer Nature, publisher of Scientific American, blocked around 1,000 articles from being viewed online by anyone in China due to sensitive keywords such as Tibet, Taiwan, Falun Gong, or the Cultural Revolution. They did this to adhere to China’s “local rules and regulations.” The same holds true for Cambridge University Press, who’ve also been required to censor their publications in China.
It’s certainly a worry when the world’s worst human rights abuser is playing such a interfering role in foreign countries and getting away with it.