Journal of Political Risk, Vol. 7, No. 5, May 2019
By Victor Mair, University of Pennsylvania
A new round of censorship in China is sufficiently significant that it should be called to the attention of readers, because it has not been brought to the surface outside of China, and even inside China the censors have done their best to hush it up.
In a nutshell, there’s a well-known scholar of ancient Chinese thought, especially Lao Zi (the fictive author of the Tao Te Ching / Daode jing), who has recently and suddenly run afoul of the authorities.
The imbroglio of Yin Zhenhuan 尹振环 and Lao Zi 老子 are occasionally mentioned online. News of Professor Yin Zhenhuan’s troubles surfaced on WeChat about two weeks ago. It’s rather hard to figure out how research on an ancient thinker could arouse such a sensational reaction, even though from the contents of Yin’s book one may perceive slight, indirect indications of current politics.
Perhaps the best way to expose the complex nature of the current contretemps is by relaying the personal communications of three People’s Republic of China (PRC) scholars on the subject, which I reproduce below.