“Science publisher Springer give in China”

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Several German professors want to publish in the science publisher Springer. This had bent without the Need of the Chinese censorship, as the sinologist Rudolf Wagner explained.

Deutsche Welle: The publisher had removed in November of 2017, supposedly critical of the government content from its Chinese Website. Were affected, more than a thousand publications. What is your main point of criticism of Springer?

Rudolf Wagner: The main point is that we say, in principle, and independently of China: No country can determine what scientific information is accessible and which are not. This goes fundamentally against the principle of freedom of science. In China, there are very intensive measures to control the press, the Internet and information. And now, if Springer starts, these checks also to extend their products internationally, then we reject the.

Sinologist Wagner: Ultimately, it is a Scam, the Chinese readers

What took the Chinese authorities to kick-off?

First of all, it is to be noted that the withdrawn publications do not violate any Chinese laws. In Germany, there are also laws that prohibit certain content. You can publish here, for example, no Nazi Propaganda. But in China this is not the case. Here there is an informal arrangement of the propaganda Department, which is not related but, in turn, on scientific articles, but it only goes to certain topics in the Chinese Internet.

To Tiananmen, the cultural revolution, and many other things. The distribution of the publications of Springer competent Person is apparently passed in anticipatory obedience to the propaganda Department to advise Springer that certain texts. Springer didn’t get a letter, with the request of certain texts to take out, because they violate the law. There is nothing at all. But it is an informal communication of the sales in China.

How would you rate the obedient response of the publishing on the “advice” of the Chinese side?

Springer is not a small publisher. He published Springer Nature and similar journals. That is to say, it plays a major role in the international media and the world of science. If the responsible had said: Either you take the whole package or nothing at all, then the Chinese leadership would have to decide. This would not mean that the major universities (such as Tsinghua University in Beijing, the article’s picture) came to Springer Nature. That would be a disaster, especially with a view to the government project of “China in 2025” and for the science site in China.

Springer seems to be saying: Our primary interest is to keep our sales numbers or increase. The question of our responsibility to our authors and also to the Chinese readers, the Springer is not obvious. Because the reader does not know that Springer has taken over a thousand articles. This is a Scam not only the authors but also the Chinese readers are deceived basically about a state of international research, is simply not correct.

Who defines what is right, what is wrong, what can be said and what is not? I can’t prevent that, the government in China that makes, but I can prevent that Springer has to be an international rule.

Outwardly at least, open to: Chinese national library in Beijing

There was a similar case with Cambridge University Press (CUP). What Lessons should publishers and authors from this censorship attempt of China?

With Cambridge University Press of China has been trying the same as in the case of Springer. But there was immediately a huge Protest, because, in contrast to Springer CUP has informed the authors. And the result was not, although the CUP has the weight of Springer, the publisher has set the censored content.

Each of the authors should contact their publisher and make it clear that he does not accept censorship. Then would have to team up with the publishers, in order to reduce the pressure of the censorship. The big publishers have a common interest. Springer does not want this censorship. The need to sit down together and answer the question: How do we deal with that? We do not agree on a common Position and say, we accept the. That would be, in my opinion, the right way.

And I am absolutely sure that the Chinese leadership is very pragmatic, and will not renounce all scientific publications. You will say: Well, that was a misunderstanding.

It is unfortunate that the natural Sciences have so far been completely out of it. This would not, of course, for Springer and China is a crucial issue, when all of a sudden, the authors of “Nature” to say, as we do. That would be great. But so far they have not expressed.

Rudolf Wagner is a sinologist at the University of Heidelberg.

The Interview was conducted by Cao Haiye