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China orders probe into children's textbook after 'ugly illustration' row

2022 May 30, 9:41, China
Birds fly past the chimney of a thermal power plant as China's national flag flutters in a suburb in Shanghai January 9, 2015. REUTERS/Aly Song/File Photo

A nationwide probe into problematic press houses has been launched in China after illustrations in a national publisher's textbooks sparked controversy for being "ugly", "racist" and "pornographic," state media reports said on Sunday.

Netizens on Chinese social media platforms like Sina Weibo joined in a campaign to report teaching materials for minors after an inappropriate illustration was spotted in a book meant for kids aged from three to six.

Viral snapshots of kids' textbooks showed some of the children depicted in strange poses, including a crooked mouth, tongue sticking out and squinting eyes, state media tabloid Global Times (GT) reported.

Some were depicted wearing clothes mimicking the US national flag, the report added.

On Saturday, the Chinese Education Ministry ordered an inspection of school textbooks and urged the People's Education Press to rectify issues flagged.

The order was issued after it was found that textbook illustrations not only differed from common aesthetics but also included sexual connotations, according to GT. The report added that many suspecting that the textbooks did not even undergo proper proofreading and review.

In the response to the criticism, the underfire publisher said they had reflected on public concern and are working to rectify the issues raised.

Zhu Wei, vice director of the Communication Law Research Center at the China University of Political Science and Law, told the GT, that the trending topic of the textbook scandal reflected the increasing attention paid to talent cultivation.

According to Zhu, Textbook publishing must undergo strict management with high-level standards to make sure that they are suited to mainstream values and aesthetics. 


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