Science journal editor says he quit over China boycott article

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From The Guardian:

The editor of a long-established academic journal has said he resigned after his publisher vetoed a call to boycott Chinese science in protest at Beijing’s treatment of Uyghurs and other Muslim minorities in Xinjiang.

Prof David Curtis, from University College London’s Genetics Institute, says his resignation as editor-in-chief of the Annals of Human Genetics is an issue of freedom of speech in the face of the science community’s increasing dependence on China.

The Annals was one of five prestigious academic journals, including the Lancet, the BMJ and the Journal of the American Medical Association (Jama), that refused to publish an article suggesting that academic journals should take a stance against China’s human rights violations in Xinjiang.

The journals involved have defended rejecting the piece and claimed that a boycott against China would be unfair and counterproductive. They have also denied being unduly deferential to China. But both the Annals publisher, Wiley, and the Lancet did suggest that publication of the letter could pose difficulties for their respective offices in China, the authors claim.

. . . .

Curtis co-authored the article but said he was prevented from publishing it in his own magazine. He handed in his notice last September in protest and then stood down with immediate effect after rejecting submissions from Chinese academics. Only now has he revealed his reasons for quitting.

. . . .

Curtis said: “I resigned because publication of the article was blocked by senior managers at Wiley who should have no say in the content of a scientific journal. I was told that Wiley has got an office in Beijing, the implication being that publication would make it difficult.”

He added: “The publisher has no business telling the editor what they can and can’t publish because of strong interests in China.”

Curtis said the alleged abuses against Uyghur families, including the mass collections of DNA samples without consent, was especially troubling in the field of genetics and for a magazine that was founded in 1925 as the Annals of Eugenics.

He accepted that his position became untenable when he began rejecting submissions from Chinese authors. He told them: “In view of the complicity of the Chinese medical and scientific establishment in human rights abuses against the Uyghurs I am not considering any submissions from China.”

Link to the rest at The Guardian and thanks to C. for the tip.

PG notes that, in traditional publishing of nearly any type, you’re independent until you’re not.

Here’s a copy of the article that triggered Wiley.

UPDATE: If you don’t see the article embedded below, click here to go to the original.


6 thoughts on “Science journal editor says he quit over China boycott article”

  1. For the link, all I can see is a small pink box containing the message – ‘NetworkError when attempting to fetch resource.’.

    Sigh. I wonder how that could be.

  2. This is not news.

    Not as to science journals in general.

    Not as to Wiley journals in particular.

    Not as to “fear of foreign-government interference with coordinate business lines.”

    Not as to “noneditorial interference in publication decisions.” That last one goes back centuries; “Remember the Maine!” is just one example, with a body count (note: the Hearst papers never acknowledged the falsity of its USS Maine conspiracy theory during Hearst’s lifetime; neither did the Chicago Tribune during Col McCormick’s, even though he wasn’t the one who had pushed it in 1898).

  3. This isn’t new, either.
    Those DNA samples? They serve a purpose…
    The organs of members of marginalized groups detained in Chinese prison camps are being forcefully harvested — sometimes when patients are still alive, an international tribunal sitting in London has concluded.

    Some of the more than 1.5 million detainees in Chinese prison camps are being killed for their organs to serve a booming transplant trade that is worth some $1 billion a year, concluded the China Tribunal, an independent body tasked with investigating organ harvesting from prisoners of conscience in the authoritarian state.

    “Forced organ harvesting has been committed for years throughout China on a significant scale,” the tribunal concluded in its final judgment Monday. The practice is “of unmatched wickedness — on a death for death basis — with the killings by mass crimes committed in the last century,” it added.

    “Allegations of forced organ harvesting first came to light in 2001, after a boom in transplant activity was registered in China, with wait times becoming unusually short, the statement said. Chinese websites advertised hearts, lungs and kidneys for sale and available to book in advance,” suggesting that the victims were killed on demand, it added.
    …it hasn’t stopped anybody from supporting China.
    (Maybe they figure tbey might need to buy a few organs soon enough.)

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