Attention Chinese government, be sure to censor this

Great article in NYT Book Review by Emily Parker on the Chinese government successfully inhibiting academic freedom and freedom of speech in the West.

The Chinese-Canadian writer Denise Chong’s ...  {2009} book, “Egg on Mao,” ... tells the true story of Lu Decheng, who threw paint-filled eggs at Mao’s portrait in Tiananmen Square during the 1989 protests.  ... A Canadian nonprofit economic development group that had invited her to appear at a fund-raiser began playing down its association with her book once learning of the title, Chong said. ...

The United States Library of Congress declined an invitation to hold an event with Chong, suggested by the Canadian Embassy. In a recent telephone interview, a library employee involved in the discussions acknowledged that the political sensitivity of the book was one factor in the decision, along with the library’s relationship with the National Library of China.

{Princeton China scholar Perry} Link ...has been repeatedly denied a visa to China since the mid-’90s, apparently for helping the Chinese dissident Fang Lizhi seek refuge in the American Embassy during the 1989 protests.  Link’s predicament casts a long shadow over other China watchers. “Three or four times a month I get questions from students: How can I avoid getting on a blacklist like you?” Link said. He adds that he’s seen doctoral students avoid writing about democracy in China out of fear of the blacklist.

This reminds me of the heavy-handed pressure by the Chinese government on the World Bank during my days there (which has probably escalated in the 9 years since). As just one example, if I did an academic paper putting the name "Taiwan" in some obscure table of econometric results, I would be required to say instead "Taiwan Province of China." (I usually ignored this requirement, a small step towards that upward trajectory out of the World Bank.)

More recently, the Chinese government has reportedly exerted pressure limiting the practical use of the World Bank Institute's Governance Indicators, which measure democracy as one of their six indicators (with the Chinese of course scoring very poorly, they don't look so good on corruption either). Perhaps this accounts for the contortions on the web site for the Governance Indicators:

{They are} one of the most comprehensive cross-country sets of governance indicators currently available....

"the Worldwide Governance Indicators show that governance and corruption can be robustly measured and the lessons drawn can in fact be put to subsequent use by reformist governments, the development community, civil society and the media" said John Githongo,

...{they} are not used by the World Bank Group to allocate resources {aid}.

While the World Bank has at the same time been making the case for over a decade that:

Aid is less effective in a weak governance environment.

So Chinese government, what ARE we allowed to talk about? Well, the official World Bank blog does have good coverage of  a Chinese dung beetle named after a World Bank staffer.