A French economist whose work has been praised by Chinese President Xi Jinping is refusing to have a censored version of his most recent Book released in China.

In 2013, Thomas Piketty published "Capital in the Twenty-First Century." The 700-page book quickly brought Piketty such fame that The New York Times has referred to him as “France’s rock-star economist." President Xi liked the book and spoke well of it in a speech in 2015, the South China Morning Post (SCMP) recalled.

Piketty's latest book "Capital and Ideology" came out in France last year and in the USA this spring, but neither the French version nor the English version nor a Chinese translation is expected to be available in mainland Chinese because, according to The New York Times, Piketty has rejected requests, from Chinese publishers, that sections of the book be omitted.

Chinese publishers request omissions

Piketty told the SCMP that his Chinese publisher wanted to remove all parts of the book related to inequality in China. The SCMP explained that "censorship is often a precondition for release" of books in mainland China. Piketty told The New York Times that if he had accepted the omissions he would have been allowing China's rulers to have him "instrumentalized in their propaganda enterprise.” Piketty added that his book contained "constructive criticism" and was not especially hard on China.

He told the newspaper that China's concern about the book was "a sign of weakness."

Growing economic inequality in China

Citing statistics used by Piketty, the SCMP noted that the richest 10 percent of the Chinese population had possessed roughly 40-50 percent of the country’s wealth in the early 1990s but that share had jumped to almost 70 percent by 2018.

The SCMP quoted Piketty as saying China's level of inequality was coming close to that of the USA.

'Communist' country has no inheritance tax

China had no inheritance tax and that was one factor contributing to the growing economic inequality in the country, Piketty told The New York Times.

He added that it was “truly paradoxical” that this was happening in a country governed by self-professed communists. In one passage of his book quoted by the SCMP, Piketty noted that "two-thirds of Chinese capital is in private hands" and those with the most wealth could bequeath everything to their children "without any tax, even a minimal one.”

In another passage, quoted by the SCMP, Piketty complained that researchers had to deal with a lack of transparency when they turned their attention to China. The economist added that the Chinese government had begun requiring wealthy individuals to declare their annual incomes in 2008 but it stopped publishing data collected from those declarations three years later.

Piketty informed The New York Times that his book would be published in Taiwan and, hopefully, Hong Kong.