Repressive Experiences among China Scholars: New Evidence from Survey Data

Article, Refereed Journal
The China Quarterly
Cover of The China Quarterly, Vo. 242, June 2020
This paper examines the nature of China's current research climate and its effects on foreign scholarship. Drawing on an original survey of over 500 China scholars, we find that repressive research experiences are a rare but real phenomenon and collectively present a barrier to the conduct of research in China. Roughly 9 per cent of China scholars report that they have been "invited to tea" by authorities within the past ten years; 26 per cent of scholars who conduct archival research report being denied access; and 5 per cent of researchers report some difficulty obtaining a visa. The paper provides descriptive information on the nature of these experiences and their determinants. It concludes with a discussion of self-censorship and strategies for conducting research on China.