March 17, 2017

Winnie-the-Pooh and Peppa Pig are a dangerous counterrevolutionaries, poisoning the minds of Chinese youths


Winnie-the-Pooh, contemplating the supremacy of Western culture and neoliberal capitalism. Via WikiMedia Commons.

Earlier this month, Chinese authorities quietly established a restrictive quota system for foreign picture books. The system places a hard cap on the number of children’s picture books that can be published in a given year by Chinese presses, and encourages the publication of domestic children’s books and picture books. According to statements given to Sidney Ling at the South China Morning Post by an unnamed editor at a state-owned publishing house, the law is a response to the perceived influx of subversive ideology through popular children’s books.

Reinforcing this edict, online retailer Taobao (which is owned by the Malaysian mega-corporation Alibaba Group) announced last Friday that it would be banning the sale of foreign children’s books not licensed by the Chinese government.

According to Ling, the demand for foreign picture books in the Chinese market has been growing steadily for a number of years. There are 220 million children under the age of fourteen in mainland China, and with population controls recently eased, that number is set to increase dramatically.

Already, children’s books have become China’s best-selling segment of the market, with over 40,000 titles published in 2016. For comparison, in 2013, there were 41,000 books—of all categories—published in France.

However, the number of quality local picture books remains low, and so foreign publishers have been forced to license translated editions of popular foreign books.

And that, comrades, represents a grave threat to the cultural integrity of the Party! Figures like Peppa Pig, Pete the Cat, and pernicious enemy of the Revolution Winnie-the-Pooh (along with his friend Paper Tigger) might seem like harmlessly whimsical figments of pure imagination. But in reality they are subversive agents of western corruption and plague-bearers of capitalism.



Simon Reichley is the Director of Operations and Rights Manager at Melville House.