How a journal censored my review on Xinjiang (7)

Brill is a publishing house with a long tradition of publishing high quality research in Asian Studies, and in particular in Sinology and Modern China. During the selection and review process for publication, we rely on the expertise of our book series and journal editors as well as peer reviewers from around the globe. High ethical standards are the foundation of this selection process, and Brill authors, editors, and reviewers are expected to follow our standards at all times.

Our newly founded journal China and Asia: A Journal in Historical Studies is a peer-reviewed English-language forum for historical research on relations between China and other regions of Asia that covers both the pre-modern and modern periods. Its purpose is to promote communication and exchange among the global Asian Studies community, especially among scholars based in Asian countries. At Brill, we strongly believe that our journals should be a platform where the entire academic community can freely share and discuss arguments, ideas, and opinions in order to further the advancement of knowledge.

For the inaugural issue of China and Asia: A Journal in Historical Studies, a review of a recent publication on Xinjiang was requested and submitted to the journal. The editor of the journal then proposed deleting the introduction of the review and the following two sentences. We understand that such a suggestion can be perceived as censorship and a breach of our publication ethics. It is unfortunate that, at least in part due to the fact that the journal was new, the matter was not discussed with Brill. Brill takes any such issues very seriously. We do not censor our publications.

Brill has addressed these serious concerns with the author of the review as well as the journal editor, and we have agreed to take the following measures. At the suggestion of the journal editor, a co-editor based outside Mainland China and Hong Kong with the requisite expertise in the historical relations between China and Asia as well as journal editorial experience, will be appointed to complement the expertise of the board. In addition, the journal wishes to clearly state that it does not take any specific political viewpoint and fully endorses academic freedom of thought and expression. To demonstrate this commitment, the journal editor and board gladly embraced the author’s proposal to publish a special issue on the role of Xinjiang in the historical relations between China and Central Asia. A call for papers will be issued shortly.

Although Brill’s publication ethics already state that manuscripts should be judged ‘without any bias to race, gender, sexual orientation, religious belief, ethnic origin, citizenship, or political philosophy of the authors,’ this will be strengthened with an explicit clause on censorship. The revised guidelines will also be made more prominently accessible on our website and editors of our book series and journals will receive information and training. A reference to our updated ethical standards will be included in all our publishing contracts. In addition, an e-mail address ( has been created to provide authors with the ability to address any concerns about editorial decisions directly with Brill.

With these measures, we hope not only to guarantee the quality of our journal China and Asia: A Journal in Historical Studies but also to ensure compliance with our ethical standards across all our publications.

Jasmin Lange <>

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