Publishing nudity in China: Censorship or Fear?

John by Norm Yip

John by Norm Yip

Another update on the publication process of my book 3.AM. As it turns out, my printer has informed me today that my book’s binding, which was supposed to be done in China, would have to done here locally in Hong Kong. Why? Because the book’s images did not pass the ‘censorship’ in China. There is no reason explained by my printer as to any specifics or which images were in question. However, they don’t want to take the chance for breaking the law and have to find an alternative company to do the binding in Hong Kong. My photography is probably seen as pornographic in nature. Binding here is going to be more costly. As a result, the date for the release of the book is still pending on the above.

It is my understanding that nothing pornographic in nature is be to published in China, but I know from my friends that there are indeed publications that are being printed and sold in China that are show full nudity (erections). What I don’t fully understand is what exactly is the fear that printers here in Hong Kong have when and if they do send something over across the borders for binding. Why? And if so, what are the offending images that make my images a danger zone for the printer? Would my books get discarded or trashed? I have had several printers in the past decline working with me because of the nature of my work. Prudish Hong Kong once again or is there a real threat to them. I wonder if is not so much as China, but Hong Kong that is taking the safe stance. I have never once thought that my work was really edgy, although yes, I have been more brave in my selection of images for 3.AM. I even have some bondage photographs.

By comparison, my work is nothing close to the sexual eroticism that Ren Hang creates, nor for the matter the darker material by Rong Rong. Of course, their work is created in China, and they are well known internationally already. And most likely, their publications are printed elsewhere.

In the meantime, I have sent a cordial email to my printer for hopefully an answer as to the ramifications of what could possibly happen if my work was to go over the border for printing.

Censored or Fear?