China Refuses To Sell Hillary Clinton’s “Hard Choices”


Hillary Clinton’s new book will not be sold in mainland China. Publishers there have declined to purchase translation rights to Hard Choices. The book will not be sold there in English either. One of China’s largest import agencies will not allow distribution of an English-language edition.

The day after Clinton’s book hit stores in the U.S., executives at Simon & Schuster learned the title would not be approved for sale in China. Hard Choices has been received well in nearly every major international market, except for China. In total, 16 other countries have purchased foreign rights to the book.
Simon & Schuster president Jonathan Karp said China’s response to Clinton’s book amounts to an “effective ban” by the country. “It’s outrageous and unfortunate,” Karp said. “And it’s a pretty clear indication of the low level of intellectual freedom in China right now.”


Clinton’s book, a 656-page retelling of her tenure at as secretary of state, is critical of the Chinese government. She details its censorship practices and characterizes the country as “full of contradictions” and the “epicenter of the antidemocratic movement in Asia.” The book also includes several passages about her dealings with Chinese senior officials. In one section, Clinton references a discussion with Dai Bingguo, China’s state councilor, about the U.S. “pivot strategy” in Asia. “Why don’t you ‘pivot’ out of here?” Dai is quoted as saying. Clinton dedicates a full chapter to her efforts on behalf of Chen Guangcheng, the blind Chinese dissident and civil rights activist who sought asylum in the U.S. Another chapter focuses on democratization in Myanmar, where China has political and economic interests, and on Aung San Suu Kyi, Myanmar’s opposition leader. Clinton also revisits her 1995 address to the UN’s Conference on Women in Beijing, where, she writes, she “felt the heavy hand of Chinese censorship when the government blocked the broadcast of my speech.”

The Chinese edition of Clinton’s first memoir, Living History, was significantly altered in 2003 without approval, causing Simon & Schuster to pull the book from circulation after a first printing of 200,000 copies. In September 2003, Simon & Schuster discovered the translated edition had altered passages about the human rights activist Harry Wu and removed references to the Tiananmen Square protests.

An additional printing of the book had been planned in China — it had become a best-seller there immediately — but Simon & Schuster withdrew the rights.

Former president Bill Clinton also had problems with his 2004 memoir, My Life. Bootleg translations, widely circulated throughout bookstores in China, included fabricated passages about the degree to which Chinese innovations had “left us in the dust.” In one pirated edition, Clinton tells his wife to call him by his nickname, “Big Watermelon.” In another, the book’s first sentence is re-written to read, “The town of Hope, where I was born, has very good feng shui.”


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