world news French Economist Thomas Piketty Rejects Chinese Censorship Demands


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Mr. Piketty’s new book, “Capital and Ideology,” which was published in France in 2019 and in the United States last March, is an attempt to describe what he calls “inequality regimes” across the ages and around the world.

Unlike “Capital in the Twenty-First Century,” which was published in 2013 and focused on Europe and the United States, the new book widens the scope and gives an important place to China and its capitalism-infused version of socialism.

“There is a constructive criticism in this book, and, frankly, it does not blame the Chinese model more than other models in the United States, Europe, India, Brazil,” Mr. Piketty said.

But starting in June, Mr. Piketty said, Citic Press — one of the largest Chinese publishing houses, which handled the Chinese version of “Capital in the Twenty-First Century” — sent his French publisher, Les Editions du Seuil, two 10-page lists of requested cuts from the French and English editions of his book. Other Chinese publishers interested in the book sent similar requests, Mr. Piketty said.

Citic Press and Les Editions du Seuil did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

The requested cuts include parts that point out the “extremely rapid rise of inequality” in China, to levels comparable to those seen in the United States. Others highlight issues like China’s lack of an inheritance tax, which Mr. Piketty says results in a significant concentration of wealth.

“It is truly paradoxical that a country led by a Communist Party, which proclaims its adherence to ‘socialism with Chinese characteristics,’ could make such a choice,” Mr. Piketty wrote in a paragraph that he said Citic Press asked to be cut.

The Chinese government has long sought to defend its economic model as best suited to a country of 1.4 billion inhabitants. Writing its own playbook, China gradually asserted itself as an economic superpower capable of challenging the United States.

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