The Global Economy

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Media tycoon Rupert Murdoch is an ardent supporter of a free press, as long as it doesn't cost him too much. Last week HarperCollins U.K. -- a subsidiary of Murdoch's News Corp., which has considerable interests in China -- suddenly dumped "East and West," a memoir by former Hong Kong governor Chris Patten that offers a frank and not always flattering assessment of the Chinese government. Though his editors were enthusiastic and though Patten signed a contract for $200,000, Murdoch took a dimmer view; a News Corp. statement said, "Murdoch did not agree with many of Patten's positions." Even though Macmillan Ltd. eagerly snapped up the book, Murdoch's decision could have a chilling effect. As one agent noted, "HarperCollins is not the only company trying to get a foothold in the Chinese market." Patten is suing for breach of contract.