The state of censorship in China is not severe, but it is conspicuous. Recently, on a BBC special report on China's economic development, the screen went blank when it came to a segment of workers protesting conditions in rural areas. Although the Chinese publishers did agree to produce an accurate translation of Sen. Hillary Clinton's book, they did excise anything remotely critical of China. Simon & Schuster initially put all the censored passages on their website, but China firewalled the page. Enough said.
January 6, 2004, 4:10 PM EST
By DEVLIN BARRETT
Associated Press Writer
WASHINGTON -- Former President Clinton, worried that his wife's memoirs lost something in translation, is acting to ensure the same doesn't happen with his coming memoirs.
His book is expected to hit stores in mid-2004, and his publisher and lawyer are trying to prevent the international friction that resulted from alterations made last year to the Chinese-language version of Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton's book.
Publisher Alfred A. Knopf and book lawyer Robert Barnett are insisting on a written agreement that would give them the right to review and reject any translation of the former president's book produced by Chinese publishers.
That demand follows a battle over the Chinese version of "Living History," Hillary Clinton's best seller published last summer.
The translation by Yilin Press, a government-backed company, drew harsh criticism from the senator when it became clear several passages about China had been excised or rewritten.
Simon & Schuster learned in September that Yilin Press removed references in "Living History" to the 1989 Tiananmen Square democracy protests and changed Clinton's comments about Chinese human rights activist Harry Wu.
Barnett, a lawyer for both Clintons, said Tuesday the president's book will either be translated in China either in total or not at all.
No release date has been set for the memoirs beyond mid-2004.
Barnett said he did not know whether the book contains passages that might raise the ire of Chinese officials because he had not yet seen material relating to that country.
Contracts for international book rights often include language that requires faithful translations of text, but rarely does an American publisher go through the effort and cost of independently verifying the accuracy of a translated text.
Sen. Clinton's publishers were unable to reach such an agreement. Several months of international legal wrangling ended in late December when Simon & Schuster withdrew rights for the Chinese translation. The company had demanded Yilin recall copies of the book and issue reprints with the complete text.
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