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China Puts Hillary's Book On Diet

Hillary Rodham Clinton at book signing at Barnes & Noble, New York City
AP
The Chinese-language version of Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton's autobiography has been censored for mainland readers, an action that "amazed and outraged" the former first lady. Her American publisher demanded Wednesday that the edition be recalled.

Clinton's memoir, "Living History," one of China's hottest-selling books, runs 466 pages in Chinese and contains at least 10 segments where politically sensitive topics were changed or deleted. They include material on Harry Wu, a Chinese-American human rights activist, and the 1989 Tiananmen Square pro-democracy protests.

Such retooling is a common practice by Beijing's authoritarian communist government, which tightly controls all media and the Internet despite promises of growing openness in an increasingly free-market economy.

"We have made technical changes to the content in some parts of the book in order to win more Chinese readers," said Liu Feng, deputy editor-in-chief of Yilin Publishing House, the publisher of the Chinese version.

"But," Liu insisted, "the changes do not hurt the integrity of the book."

Since the memoir was released in China on Aug. 3, more than 200,000 copies have been printed in at least four editions.

"Unbelievable! I was amazed and outraged that they would censor me again," the New York senator told The Associated Press outside an unrelated Senate hearing in Washington on Wednesday morning.

Clinton said the publisher is putting up an English and Mandarin Web site so people in China can access censored portions.

Asked why she thought the censorship occurred, Clinton replied: "Why does any government keep information? They want to control the opinions and minds of their citizens." She called such an attempt "increasingly futile" in the Internet era.

Simon & Schuster, the memoir's U.S. publisher, has informed Yilin that its actions are a "breach of contract."

"Yilin Press represented their edition to be a complete and accurate translation of the English text. In fact, numerous changes and deletions were made to portions of the text dealing with Senator Clinton's views about China and her travels there," Simon & Schuster said in a statement Wednesday.

It said it had demanded "immediate recall of the inaccurate version and the republication of the book with a faithful and accurate translation."

Simon & Schuster's Web site posted a page flagging the changes in red and providing English and Chinese versions of what was missing or altered.

"We were shocked to learn of this problem and wanted to provide a quick and accurate way for Chinese readers to read the missing passages while we sort out the legal issues with Yilin," said Carolyn Reidy, president of Simon & Schuster.

One section in the Chinese version says Wu had been detained and was awaiting sentencing for spying. The original version says Wu is a "human rights activist who had spent 19 years as a political prisoner in Chinese labor camps," according to the Web site.

Simon & Schuster released the book in the United States on June 9. First-day sales topped 200,000 as people rushed to buy the memoir, in which Clinton recounts, among other things, her pain and shock at her husband's affair with White House intern Monica Lewinsky.

Liu said Yilin had received an English copy of the book on June 2 and rushed to put out a translation to beat counterfeiters and stem the near-inevitable slew of illegal copies.

"It is our fault that we did not contact Simon & Schuster and inform them about the changes in time," Liu said.

"In order to fight piracy and protect the rights of both Simon & Schuster and ourselves, we had to speed up our effort to publish the book," he said. "The only thing in our mind at that time was to get the book published as soon as possible."

On Wednesday afternoon, at the Xinhua Bookstore in Beijing's Xidan shopping district, customers said they were unaware of any changes made in translation. But they seemed enthusiastic about the memoir by the wife of a president many Chinese admire.

"Hillary is a very strong person, and the Sino-U.S. relationship is very important," said Zhang Jinghua, a 20-year-old hotel worker from central China leafing through the book.