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Chinese rights withdrawn for Hillary Clinton book

Publisher would not restore passages critical of government
/ Source: The Associated Press

The U.S. publisher of Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton’s memoirs has withdrawn rights for the Chinese translation, citing the Chinese publisher’s unwillingness to restore passages critical of the government.

“They no longer have the right to print or sell the book,” Adam Rothberg, a spokesman for Simon & Schuster, said Tuesday.

Simon & Schuster had learned in September that Yilin Press, a Chinese government-backed publisher, removed references in “Living History” to the 1989 Tiananmen Square democracy protests, and altered Clinton’s comments about human rights activist Harry Wu, who campaigns against abuses in the Chinese labor camps where he spent 19 years.

Simon & Schuster demanded an immediate reprinting of the complete, uncensored text. In response, Yilin sent an apologetic letter, saying the company had to rush the Chinese version to stores to compete with counterfeit versions sold by street peddlers.

But after three months of negotiations, Simon & Schuster decided to cancel the contract. Yilin’s deputy editor in chief, Liu Feng, told The New York Times that the company was still reviewing the situation.

Efforts by The Associated Press to reach Yilin officials for comment were unsuccessful. A woman who answered the phone Tuesday at its publicity office said all of its managers were at a conference. The woman, who wouldn’t give her name, said she didn’t know anything about the book dispute.

Simon & Schuster has posted on its Web site the original versions of the censored sections, hoping to counteract the official action. A full translation was also published in neighboring Taiwan.

“Living History,” for which Clinton earned an $8 million advance, has sold 1.5 million copies in the United States alone, surpassing the mark for political autobiography set by Colin Powell’s 1995 “My American Journey.” Rothberg said that the Chinese translation had a first printing of 200,000 and that an additional printing had been planned.