May 2, 2016
Chinese textbook publisher accused of “worshipping all things foreign”
by Taylor Sperry
While efforts to suppress “so-called Western values” continue in China—Hannah Beech reports for TIME magazine that new legislation “makes it significantly harder for foreign NGOs to operate” and Western teaching materials are “by no means” allowed in classrooms—the nation’s official textbook publisher finds itself defending the multicultural elements of books published for primary school children.
The People’s Education Press said in a statement, “Choosing articles with foreign elements aims to expand students’ horizons, cultivate their scientific spirit and help them absorb all that is excellent in human culture,” Cao Siqi reports for the Global Times.
Among the objectionable “foreign elements” are “a lesson about friendship” that features protagonists with Russian names; “a story about honesty” with Japanese characters; and mention of Leonardo da Vinci.
“Such accusations,” Siqi writes, “are a reflection of narrow-minded nationalist sentiment and a lack of cultural confidence.”
Taylor Sperry is a former Melville House editor.