Beijing pressured Australian publisher into canceling book release, author says

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"This signals a watershed moment in the tide of Chinese influence in Australia", he told TIME. But on November 8 his publisher, Sydney-based Allen & Unwin, said it was concerned about a possible defamation suit and wanted to delay the book.

He said he had documented the influence of the Chinese Communist Party on Australian political parties, universities and cultural organizations, as well as on Chinese living in Australia.

After receiving legal advice, Hamilton's publisher, Allen & Unwin, wanted to delay the publication of Silent Invasion, which details purported efforts by the Chinese government to influence Australian society. Gorman writes that the "most serious of these threats was the very high chance of a vexatious defamation action against Allen & Unwin, and possibly against you personally as well".

Allen & Unwin has since released the following statement: 'Allen & Unwin has published a number of books with Clive Hamilton, and has enormous respect for him and his work.

Hamilton slammed the decision to stop the book from publishing just when it was about to hit the bookstores.

Foreign Minister Julie Bishop has also told Chinese students in Australia that "openness and upholding freedom of speech" were among the nation's important values and should be abided by.

In June, Australian Broadcasting Corporation and Fairfax Media, publisher of the Sydney Morning Herald and The Age newspapers, published reports saying that there was a concerted campaign by China and its proxies to "infiltrate" the Australian political process and institutions to promote Chinese interests.

The Chinese ambassador to Australia, Cheng Jinygye, has rejected allegations of political interference as "groundless" and said they were provoking a "China panic".

The delay of the book comes after two global publishing houses - Springer Nature, which publishes science magazines Nature and Scientific American, and Cambridge University Press - were criticised recently for restricting access to articles on sensitive subjects in China.

The US-based Association for Asian Studies said in the same month that it had refused to comply with a request from China's publications administration to withdraw politically sensitive texts.