Mathematics books anger China with ‘ugly, sexually suggestive, pro-American’ images

The news has alarmed some experts and parents who fear that the campaign will turn into a dossier Political witch hunt It represents an unnecessary tightening of the country’s already stringent censorship of cultural publications.

The drawings, found in a series of math textbooks that have been used by Chinese primary schools for nearly a decade, are controversial for various reasons.

Pictures of children with small, drooping eyes and large foreheads have been criticized by some Chinese netizens as ugly, degrading and racist.

Others are outraged by what they see as sexual connotations in the drawings. Some photos show young children bulging in their pants that resemble the outlines of their genitals; In one illustration of children playing a game, a boy puts his hands on a girl’s chest while another pulls on a girl’s skirt; In another drawing, a girl’s underwear is shown as she is jumping a rope.

Netizens have also accused the illustrations of being “pro-American” because they show many children dressed in clothing plaid with the stars, stripes and colors of the American flag.

One of the drawings, which showed an inaccurate display of stars on the Chinese flag, was accused of being “anti-Chinese.”

Some Chinese netizens are angry at what they see as sexual connotations in the illustrations.

Outrage over the illustrations has dominated Chinese social media discussions since Thursday, when images of the illustrations first circulated online. Several related hashtags have garnered tens of millions of views on Weibo, China’s Twitter-like platform.

Many expressed shock and anger that such “inferior” illustrations were not only It turned into textbooks published by the state-owned People’s Education Press, the country’s largest textbook publisher founded in 1950, but it went unnoticed for many years. Textbooks are in use nationwide since 2013.

Nationalist influencers soon blamed “Western cultural intrusion,” claiming—without providing evidence—that the painters were secretly working for “foreign forces,” especially the United States, to spoil the lives of innocent Chinese schoolchildren.

Amid the uproar, the People’s Education Press said Thursday that it has been taking back textbooks and will do so Redesigned illustrations – but that failed to quell the audience’s anger.

On Saturday, China’s Ministry of Education stepped in, ordering the publisher to “correct and fix” its publications and ensure that the new version would be available for the fall semester. It also ordered a “comprehensive examination” of textbooks nationwide to ensure that educational materials “adhere to correct political orientations and values, promote distinct Chinese culture and conform to the aesthetic tastes of the public.”

Pictures of children with small, drooping eyes and large foreheads have been criticized by some Chinese netizens as ugly, degrading and racist.

But the campaign isn’t just about aesthetic and moral values—there is an ideological component, too. Textbooks have taken center stage in Chinese leader Xi Jinping’s efforts to tighten ideological control over the country’s youth and stave off the influence of “Western values.”

Under Xi, the Chinese government has Prohibited foreign teaching materials – including textbooks and classic novels – in all public primary and secondary schools, it states that all educational materials “must reflect the will of the party and the state.”

Textbook criticism also turned into a personal attack on the illustrators.

Wu Yong, whose art studio designed the illustrations, was accused of being a spy for the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). Even the mother Wu University, The Academy of Art and Design at the prestigious Tsinghua University of Chinahas not escaped the wrath of suspicious nationalist users.
some Academy accused being a “hotbed for breeding traitors”; others target his logosaying that it resembled a kneeling person holding a fork – a symbol that is interpreted as flattering the West (some historical bloggers have since pointed out that the logo was actually an adaptation of the “artistic” character in an ancient Chinese writing called the Oracle Skeleton script).

In a sign of the extent to which the nationalist outrage has reached, even prominent graphic artist Wuheqilin – who has made a name by mocking Western countries with his ultra-nationalist artwork – has come under fire. Nationalists accused Wuheqilin of aiding anti-Chinese forces after he suggested that the poor quality of the illustrations was likely the result of low commissions offered to designers — a problem he said the industry had faced for years.

“I am afraid this is becoming a politically charged issue that does not allow for a fair consideration of the relevant facts,” said Dali Yang, a professor of political science at the University of Chicago.

China bans foreign educational materials in public schools
in the last days, A growing volume of educational materials He has been criticized online for pandering to Western culture or promoting problematic values. Others have targeted illustrations in sex education books, raise concerns To publish such educational material – which is already in short supply In China – will also be affected.

Paul Huang, a father of a five-year-old in the southern city of Guangzhou, said that while he was happy to see poorly designed illustrations removed from textbooks, he worries that the issue has been politicized.

“As a parent, compared to the infiltration of foreign forces, I am more concerned about explicit strict censorship of content that could have offered children a freer and more diverse perspective,” he said.

“Such censorship makes our textbooks more conservative and dull, which is not beneficial to children’s development.”

Some publishers have already been affected.

On Saturday, May 7, manga publisher in the eastern city of Hangzhou Hi-Box apologized to its readers for having to delay publishing his comics.

“Today we learned that due to a social accident caused by a certain publisher, all published children’s picture books have entered the self-examination stage, and our unpublished picture books will have to be postponed accordingly,” she said on Weibo.

In the comments section, several readers said they saw it coming.

The top comment with 30,000 upvotes said, “It’s starting over. They never regulate what should be regulated, and only target those who shouldn’t.”