The first Simplified Chinese version was published in 1979. It was first available to the general public in China in 1985, as previously it was only in portions of libraries and bookstores open to a limited number of people. Amy Hawkins and Jeffrey Wasserstrom of The Atlantic stated in 2019 that the book is widely available in Mainland China for several reasons: the general public by and large no longer reads books, because the elites who do read books feel connected to the ruling party anyway, and because the Communist Party sees being too aggressive in blocking cultural products as a liability. The authors stated "It was—and remains—as easy to buy 1984 and Animal Farm in Shenzhen or Shanghai as it is in London or Los Angeles." They also stated that "The assumption is not that Chinese people can’t figure out the meaning of 1984, but that the small number of people who will bother to read it won’t pose much of a threat."
By 1989, Nineteen Eighty-Four had been translated into 65 languages, more than any other novel in English at that time.