China textbook crackdown as 'ugly' kids prompt 'infiltration' claims

China textbook crackdown as 'ugly' kids prompt 'infiltration' claims

May 31, 2022

China cracks down on school textbooks after social media outcry over ‘ugly’ children led to claims publishers were being ‘infiltrated by the west’

  • Beijing launches nationwide probe into all school and uni textbooks amid furore
  • Maths books feature sex cartoons, pro-America images and racial stereotypes
  • Artist accused of working for CIA and college branded a ‘hotbed for traitors’
  • State media accused material of ‘infiltration’ and sounding state ‘security alarm’ 
  • Xi Jinping has said textbooks must enforce ‘the will of the party and the country’

Beijing launched a nationwide probe into all Chinese school and university textbooks amid fears they have been ‘infiltrated’ by the CIA.

Cartoons in the country’s maths books went viral on state-censored social media site Weibo late last week, with critics pointing out a series of pro-American images.

Scenes in the People’s Education Press books included kids sticking their tongues out, holding fingers up in peace signs and dressing like Westerners.

They also featured bizarre sexualised images including a boy putting his hands up a girl’s bra and another pulling up a girl’s dress.

The bizarre maths book cartoons included allegedly Westernised scenes and cheeky children

Children were seen dressing in colourful Western clothing and playing playground games

Outraged Weibo users accused the drawings of depicting Chinese children through racist stereotypes including ‘slanted eyes’ and ‘narrow foreheads’.

Parent and university professor Li Yuguo wrote. ‘This is not a matter of art. It involves education, culture and even overseas infiltration.’ 

Social media users and even China’s largest state newspaper pointed the finger at the US, CNN reported.

The Global Times headline yesterday read: ‘Toxic textbooks sound ideological security alarm from infiltration’.

Tianjin University professor Qin An told the paper: ‘Problematic textbooks are not a matter of aesthetics, but a threat to the country’s ideological security and the future of the nation.

But the portrayal of ‘slant-eyed’ children was also accused of racism by some parents online

‘Illustrations in many textbooks have obvious Westernized elements that vilify the Chinese. They are a clear sign of ideological struggle.’

People’s Education Press apologised for the cartoons and promised to ‘elevate the artistry’ of future editions.

The publisher wrote: ‘We have begun to redraw the covers and some illustrations of the relevant mathematics textbooks to improve the painting method and elevate the artistry.

‘We have carried out serious reflection, and feel deep self-blame and guilt, and hereby express our deepest apologies.’

Publisher People’s Education Press said it felt ‘deep self-blame and guilt’ over the cartoons

Despite widespread claims, there was no evidence that the cartoons’ artist, Wu Yong, works for the CIA.

Social media critics accused his art school at Tsinghua University of being a ‘hotbed for breeding traitors’.

Yong has stayed silent amid the outcry, according to the New York Times.

Hangzhou-based manga publisher Hi Books said it would have to pause the release of its new comics while the state review continues. 

One drawing showed a young boy with his hands in his pocket, a subversive gesture for some

Beijing is now reviewing all children’s materials published in the country including mangas

It wrote on Weibo: ‘All the published children’s picture books have entered a stage of self-inspection.’

The top comment, with more than 30,000 votes, read: ‘It’s starting again. They never regulate what should be regulated, and only target those that shouldn’t be targeted.’

President Xi Jinping has banned foreign-made textbooks and classic novels in an effort to repress ‘outside infiltrations’.

Beijing dictates all classroom materials ‘must reflect the will of the party and the country’.

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