China Textbook Controversy: Maths Textbook With Sexually Suggestive Illustrations Enrage People

Maths Textbook Enrage People In China With Sexually Provocative, Pro-American’ Graphics

The Chinese government has ordered a national review of school textbooks after images deemed ugly, sexually provocative, and secretly pro-American sparked a public outcry.

Experts and parents are concerned that the effort is turning into a political witch hunt and constitutes an unneeded tightening of the country’s already severe regulation of cultural publications, according to the news.

For a variety of reasons, Chinese primary schools have been using a series of math textbooks for nearly a decade that include these pictures.

Images of youngsters with small, drooping, wide-set eyes and large foreheads have been branded ugly, insulting, and racist by some Chinese internet users on social media.

Drawings that some have seen as containing sexual implications have sparked indignation from others. One artwork depicts a female jumping rope as her underwear is visible; another shows a boy with his hands on a girl’s chest while another tugs on her skirt; in all three instances, the girls are naked.

Internet users have also accused the pictures of being “pro-United States” because they depict several children in American flag-themed clothing.

Math books outrage China with 'ugly, sexually suggestive, pro-American' images | CNN

The Chinese flag’s stars were misrepresented in one image, and the artist was accused of being “anti-Chinese.”

Since Thursday, when images of the artwork first appeared online, Chinese social media users have been infuriated. Weibo, China’s Twitter-like platform, has seen tens of millions of views for a number of relevant hashtags.

“Substandard” pictures made it into textbooks published by the People’s Education Press, the country’s largest textbook publisher founded in 1950, and had gone undiscovered for so many years.

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Many voiced amazement and displeasure about this (the textbooks have been in use nationwide since 2013.) Several others questioned how these textbooks had made it through the notoriously stringent country’s publication review procedure without being rejected.

Influential Chinese nationalists promptly blamed “Western cultural infiltration” on illustrators working for “foreign forces,” mainly the United States, to corrupt the souls of innocent Chinese schoolchildren.

On Thursday, the People’s Education Press announced that it was withdrawing the textbooks and reworking the images, but that didn’t placate the public’s outrage.

Chinese education officials intervened on Saturday, ordering a publisher to “rectify and reform” its publications and ensure that the revised version is accessible for the upcoming academic year’s first day of class.

A statewide “thorough assessment” of textbooks was also ordered to ensure that they “adhere to correct political orientations and ideals, promote exceptional Chinese culture and comply to public aesthetic sensibilities.”

There is also an ideological component to the campaign, which is not just about aesthetics and morality. China’s leader Xi Jinping has prioritized textbooks in his campaign to impose stricter ideological constraints on China’s youth and ward off the influence of “Western ideas.”

The Chinese government, under Xi, has forbidden all public primary and secondary schools from using any foreign teaching materials, including textbooks and classic novels. This is because all teaching materials “must reflect the intent of the party and the country.”

China Aims For Total Control of People's Thinking From Primary Level Upwards — Radio Free Asia


As a result of the criticism of textbooks, illustrators have sometimes become the target of personal attacks.

The artist behind the illustrations, Wu Yong, has been implicated in a spy plot by the US government’s Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) (CIA). Even Wu’s alma mater, China’s elite Tsinghua University’s Academy of Arts & Design, was not spared from the anger of nationalist users.

It has been claimed that this university is a “hotbed for hatching traitors,” while others have pointed to its emblem, which they say depicts a kneeling person holding an open fork — an image that may be seen as a sign of submission to the West (some history bloggers have since pointed out that the logo was actually an adaption of the “art” character in an ancient Chinese writing called the oracle bone script).

Even the high-profile graphic designer Wuheqilin, who built a name for himself by criticizing Western countries with his ultra-nationalist artwork, has come under criticism.

This shows how far the nationalist rage has gone. Chinese nationalists accused Wuheqilin of siding with anti-Chinese elements after he stated that the cheap commissions paid to illustrators may have been a contributing factor in the poor quality of the illustrations.

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Media from the state have also weighed in. A headline in the Global Times, a state-run nationalist newspaper, read: “Toxic textbooks raise ideological security warning from infiltration.”

“The recent netizen efforts that exposed textbooks are awful. We learned from Hong Kong and Xinjiang that problematic textbooks pose a serious threat to the country’s ideological security and the nation’s destiny, not just in terms of aesthetics “As stated by the GLOBETIMES, a Tianjin University professor, Qin An said.

“Many textbook illustrations are clearly Westernized and portray the Chinese in a negative light. Ideological conflict can be seen in their appearance “According to Qin, who spoke to the media.

There has been a significant increase in criticism of educational materials that are perceived to be promoting Western values or catering to them.

Some Chinese internet users have been outraged by what they see as sexual connotations in the illustrations.

A number of other attacks have targeted the illustrations in books on sexual education, raising fears that the publication of these teaching materials, which are already in short supply in China, may be adversely damaged.

Dali Yang, a political scientist at the University of Chicago, expressed concern that the subject had become too politicized to allow for an objective assessment of the pertinent facts.

Guangzhou father Paul Huang, whose five-year-old son suffers from dyslexia, said that while he is pleased that textbook drawings with bad design are being eliminated, he is worried that the issue has become politicized.

I’m more concerned as a parent about blatantly strict censoring of content that could have afforded children a freer, more diverse perspective than I am about infiltration by foreign forces,” he said.

Strict textbook censoring is harming the growth of our children by making them more conservative and boring, which is counterproductive.

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There have already been a few casualties among the publishing industry.

On Saturday, the 7th.

Hangzhou-based manga publisher Hi Books issued an apology to its customers for the delay in the release of several of its titles.

Unpublished comics will be postponed owing to a social incident sparked by one publisher, the company announced on Weibo. “We were notified today that all published children’s picture books have entered a stage of self-inspection.”

Many readers commented that they had foreseen it.

“It’s back on track. Never regulate what should be regulated and only target those who should be regulated, “According to the most popular remark with more than 30,000 upvotes.