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Springer Nature Removes Access to Some Articles in China

Springer Nature is under criticism this week for blocking access to some of its articles on its Chinese website, the New York Times reports.

The publisher, whose volumes include the journal Nature as well as textbooks and periodicals like Scientific American, says that it removed access to certain articles at the behest of the Chinese government. According to the Times, the articles mainly dealt on what the mainland Chinese government considers touchy subjects, such as Taiwan, Tibet, human rights, and elite politics, though it says the publisher seems to have used a broad interpretation when removing access.

Springer Nature tells the Times that only 1 percent of its articles are no longer available in mainland China. The Financial Times says thousands of articles are affected.

The Times notes that Springer Nature isn't the first academic publisher to acquiesce to such a request: Cambridge University Press removed about 300 articles from the Chinese site of one of its journals over the summer. Those articles likewise discussed sensitive topics, but the publisher reinstated access to the paper following criticism. The Financial Times notes that the LexisNexis database withdrew some of its products from China after being asked to remove stories.

"Springer's censorship is a disservice to everyone," Macquarie University's Kevin Carrico tells the Times. "Springer's success relies on its authors and its readers, and both are being cheated in this arrangement." 

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