Textbook recalled in China after its illustrations sparked furor online

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A Chinese state-owned educational publisher has been forced to recall a set of elementary school math textbooks after its illustrations were widely criticized for being ugly, pornographic and secretly pro-American.

People’s Education Press released a public statement on May 26 pledging to redesign illustrations after its textbooks became the most discussed topic on China’s Twitter-like social media platform Weibo. It continued to be one of the top trending posts on Weibo on May 27, as a hashtag on the subject had been viewed more than 2.2 billion times as of 11:38 a.m. Beijing time.

What caused the outcry were the drawings in the Chinese textbook which social media users lambasted for featuring faces with small, splayed eyes. Some have accused the depictions of being racist.

Others posted photos of illustrations from the manual in which boys appear to be depicted with outlines of male genitalia on their pants. The children depicted wearing clothes with stars and stripes prompted others to accuse the books of promoting the United States.

“Absolutely there are traitors lurking somewhere – pro-American elements that have permeated our education system,” one Weibo user wrote.

People’s Education Press said she had already started redoing the illustrations. “We have humbly embraced good opinions and suggestions from all walks of life,” he said in his statement. –Bloomberg

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