Censorship in translation: The case of the People’s Republic of China

Zaixi TAN*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articlepeer-review

19 Citations (Scopus)
141 Downloads (Pure)


This article studies censorship and translation in the PRC, focusing on how censorship, as a form of institutional (e.g. government, editorial, publishers’) control of the circulation of information and ideas, regulates the activity of translation in the country. It covers 60-odd years sub-divided into three periods: (1) the founding of the PRC to the Cultural Revolution (1949–1966), during which censorship in the translation and importation of foreign literature largely revealed a former Soviet Union influence; (2) the Cultural Revolution (1966–1976), during which ultra-leftist political and ideological censorship was so severe that the translation of anything alien was strictly forbidden; and (3) the period from 1976 to the present day, during which time the country first experienced a gradual loosening of severe restrictions and then a more relaxed position on incoming foreign literature which, however, was accompanied more recently with re-enforced regulations of information circulated on the internet. The purpose of the paper is to explore the underlying factors for translational censorship in China and the factors that may have affected the changing or non-changing character of translational censorship; and, through the case of the PRC, to throw insights on how the study of translational censorship may contribute to our understanding of the cultural politics of translation in a broader context.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)313-339
Number of pages27
Issue number1
Early online date15 Jul 2014
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2015

Scopus Subject Areas

  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Law

User-Defined Keywords

  • Censorship
  • China
  • Cultural politics of translation
  • Literature
  • Translation


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