The Pitt Building, where some of CUP is basedCallum Hale-Tompson

Cambridge University Press (CUP) has taken down over 300 sensitive articles and book reviews from its website in China following a request from a Chinese import agency.

Concerns were first raised by Dr Tim Pringle, the editor of China Quarterly (CQ), a CUP-published journal focusing on China and Taiwan. In an email to members of the CQ editorial board, posted on Twitter on Thursday, Pringle said that CUP had pulled articles from its Chinese website after being sent a list by the General Administration of Press and Publication (GAPP), a state press censor.

In the email, Pringle says CUP took down around 300 pieces in order to avoid having their entire website shut down. Pringle said CUP claimed the same demands have been issued to other publishers, though in the email he says that he has contacted other editors of journals relating to Chinese studies, and none were aware of similar demands being made of their publishers.

A screenshot of the email was posted on Twitter by Jonathan Henshaw, a PhD candidate at the University of British Columbia.

The pieces mostly relate to topics such as Tiananmen Square, the Cultural Revolution, Tibet, Hong Kong, and Taiwan. The material ranges from pieces published in the last few months to that written in the 1960s. China is well-known for its censorship of the both press and many Western websites, including Facebook. The watchdog charity Reporters Without Borders gave China the lowest possible score on its press freedom ranking.

In a statement, Dr Pringle said "The China Quarterly wishes to express its deep concern and disappointment that over 300 articles and reviews published in the journal have been censored by a Chinese import agency. We note too that this restriction of academic freedom is not an isolated move but an extension of policies that have narrowed the space for public engagement and discussion across Chinese society."

Speaking to Varsity, CUP said that “Freedom of thought and expression underpin what we as publishers believe in, yet Cambridge University Press and all international publishers face the challenge of censorship.

“We can confirm that we received an instruction from a Chinese import agency to block individual articles from China Quarterly within China. We complied with this initial request to remove individual articles, to ensure that other academic and educational materials we publish remain available to researchers and educators in this market.

“We are aware that other publishers have had entire collections of content blocked in China until they have enabled the import agencies to block access to individual articles. We do not, and will not, proactively censor our content and will only consider blocking individual items (when requested to do so) when the wider availability of content is at risk.

CUP also said that it is committed to expanding freedom to publish in china, and said it “will continue to take every opportunity to influence this agenda”.

This is not the first time that CUP has been involved in controversy with its international affairs. In October both CUP and Oxford University Press appealed a High Court ruling in Delhi, in which a publisher operating under a license from the University of Delhi reproduced between six and 65 pages of CUP and OUP content

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