There is a debate on whether or not the Lonely Planet China and Taiwan editions of the popular travel guide are banned from the mainland. Bingfeng notes that he has several LP editions that were purchased in China.
AsiaPundit will note that the state-owned bookstore that is across from his office does sell the Lonely Planet Shanghai city guide, and several other editions of the guide for other Asian locations. However, there are no editions for Taiwan, China or Greater China.
Marc Van der Chij’s, in an item linked to here earlier, noted a conversation he had with a clerk at Shanghai’s best English-language bookstore.:
I could not find the China guide, so I assumed it was sold out. Then I looked for the Beijing guide, and did not find it either. The Tibet guide maybe, as as preparation for next year’s bike trip? No luck. I asked the shop assistant, and he explained to me that in China it is not allowed to sell the Lonely Planet guides for China, Beijing and Tibet.
Fons describes the ban as an “urban myth.” AsiaPundit does not believe that to be the case. Mainland authorities are very sensitive to maps that depict Taiwan as a separate state, and there is a general ban on maps that do so. This is old news.
If there is an urban myth, it is the myth that that the CPC Censorship Machine is efficient.
There are massive gaps in the Great Firewall of China through which ’sensitive’ information is available on the internet (even without the use of proxy servers). AsiaPundit has picked up locally published expat magazines that have addressed the ‘question of Tibet.’ We expect that more than 90 percent of satellite receivers are illegal. And, of course, none of those pirated DVDs that can be picked up at the neighborhood shops or street-stall vendors are state-approved (though some may be made by state-owned enterprises).
Most of this, it should be said, happens in the margins and in the black-market economy. But even in the heavily regulated world of state-run bookstores things will get through. The state-run SBT Bookstore near AsiaPundit global headquarters, and various other outlets throughout the city, are still selling copies of Jung Chang’s Wild Swans.
China does ban maps that display an independent Taiwan. And if the Lonely Planet does display such maps it would be included under such a ban. However, the CPC Censorship Machine is a rickety and incompetent beast and it misses more material than it catches.
We are incredibly thankful for this.
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