“You’re stepping on my shadow, please back off,” she said.

Sun Yisheng / Nicky Harman

Review: Internet Literature in China


Conditions in China, with strong government controls over (physical) publication -- of books and magazines -- certainly were conducive to an explosive growth of online publication unlike anywhere else. As Hockx notes, the requirement of a 'book number' (ISBN) for the publication of any book in China has presented a considerable hurdle, and allowed for continued strong state control over what gets published in physical form. While online-publishing is not a "free-for-all from which state regulators have withdrawn entirely", control has been both lighter and not as far-reaching -- including for the simple logistical reason that it's nearly impossible to keep track of everything published online. Hockx provides numerous interesting examples of how the state has tried to maintain order -- and what the red lines are (such as the treatment of sexually explicit material) --, as well the evasive maneuvers authors and publishers can take, such as avoiding the use of terms that are readily flagged (and coming up with creative substitutes).


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