Illustrations in Chinese Textbook Don't Go Over Well

27 are punished over drawings described as lewd, racist, and just plain weird
By Mike L. Ford,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 23, 2022 12:44 PM CDT
Updated Aug 28, 2022 8:15 AM CDT
Illustrations in Chinese Textbook Don't Go Over Well
This illustration from a math textbook published by People's Education Press appears to show boys fondling girls on the playground.   (China Uncensored via YouTube screengrab)

China's education ministry is penalizing 27 publishing professionals for a series of odd illustrations in a math textbook. Per the Guardian, the announcement comes after an investigation that began in May, when samples of the drawings were posted on Chinese social media and described there as "tragically ugly," the Guardian previously reported. The illustrations gathered billions of views and millions of derisive comments, creating an embarrassment for the Communist Party. Drawings include "people with distorted faces and bulging pants, boys grabbing girls' skirts, and at least one child with an apparent leg tattoo," as the Guardian put it. Per China Uncensored, illustrations were described as "spooky, ugly, racist" and "exuding negative energy."

Bloomberg notes that some illustrations also show "children wearing clothing bearing stars and stripes," prompting allegations of foreign meddling. The math textbooks, published by People's Education Press, have already been used in elementary schools since 2013. The publisher issued a public apology in May, and it was ordered to redesign all the materials by September, per Shanghai Daily, but that didn't spare the 27 subjects of the investigation from punishment. The publisher's president, editor-in-chief, and math director received demerits that affect future employment prospects; the latter two were also removed from their jobs. Illustrators and designers were banned from future involvement in educational materials, among other punishments.

According to Newsweek, the ministry's probe determined that the publisher did "not fully" understand the function of educational illustrations and pledged that the Communist Party would take more direct control to ensure that educational materials "always adhere to the correct political direction and value orientation." The government has already been busy in that regard, having banned foreign syllabuses and for-profit after-school programs and placed more emphasis on patriotic and ideological curricula intended to undermine Western influence. (Read more China stories.)

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