Cambridge University Press has come under fire when it agreed to comply with Beijing’s request to block access to 300 studies from China Quarterly. The Financial Times reported:

The articles in China Quarterly, which cover a range of topics deemed sensitive by Beijing from human rights to Tibet and Xinjiang, were blocked within China in the past few weeks, according to Tim Pringle, the editor and a lecturer at the University of London’s School of Oriental and African Studies.

CUP, the publishing arm of the University of Cambridge, said it complied with an instruction from a Chinese import agency to block individual articles in China Quarterly to stop the Beijing authorities from retaliating by banning its many other publications.

“We complied with this initial request to remove individual articles, to ensure that other academic and educational materials we publish remain available to researchers and educators in this market,” it said in a statement.

CUP said it was “troubled by the recent increase in requests of this nature” and would take up the matter with the “relevant agencies” at the Beijing Book Fair next week.

Sinologists said they fear the move against China Quarterly is part of a bigger crackdown on academia inside and outside China, as President Xi Jinping steps up a wider campaign against dissent that has also targeted lawyers, journalists and human rights activists.

“The move by CUP was pragmatic,” said Jonathan Sullivan, a member of China Quarterly’s executive committee whose 2010 article on Taiwan independence was among those blocked. “To lose 300 articles is a big blow and we’re against it. But the vast majority of articles published in China Quarterly are still available in China.”

But Mr Sullivan, the director of the University of Nottingham’s China Policy Institute, conceded that “the decision of any academic outlet to accept this censorship is worrying because it helps magnify Beijing’s message to individual academics”.

Other leading Sinologists attacked CUP, which has singled out China as a key market, for giving in to the Chinese government.