Update: Senior provincial official sacked for publishing book full of 'nonsense'

Source: Global Times Published: 2020/7/28 20:44:45

A photo of a book, Safeness Sutra, written by He Dian, a deputy director of the Department of Public Security of Jilin Province, goes viral on Tuesday. Photo: screenshot from Sina Weibo

The CPC committee of Northeast China's Jilin Province announced on Friday the removal of He Dian, deputy secretary of the CPC Committee of Jilin and deputy director of the Province's Department of Public Security, from his post. He was investigated for suspected abuse of power by publishing a book full of "nonsense." 

The People's Publishing House, the book's publishing house, on Tuesday denied that it published the book, Safeness Sutra, in which He made simple, illogical phrases using the word "safe" in the book after Chinese netizens criticized it for "lacking seriousness, being nonsensical and very poorly written," and the publisher for "currying favor" with the official. 

An investigation team was jointly established by the Jilin provincial commission for discipline inspection and publicity department to investigate the incident, the Jilin provincial government said on Wednesday.

The publishing house announced on its Sina Weibo account on Tuesday that it never published the book nor agreed with any institutions to publish the book. 

"As for the act of publishing the book in the name of our house, our house reserves the right to ascertain the legal liability of the person responsible for it," the publishing house said. 

The announcement came after photos of the book went viral on Tuesday. 

An excerpt of the book includes the phrases "safe eyes, safe ears, safe nose, safe tongue, safe body and safe ideas," and in other chapters, the word "safe" is followed by names of locations or ages. For example, "safe 28 years old, safe 29 years old, safe 30 years old…" 

The book has drawn floods of mockery and criticism on Sina Weibo, with many asking if it is "really a book or just simple phrase-making homework of a pupil." 

"I could laugh for a whole year after reading this book. And I suddenly realize I could write a book on drinking water. My book goes like this: 'People have to drink water, man drink water, women drink water, children drink water, elderly drink water, young drink water,'" a netizen commented. 

Meanwhile, the book has been recommended by local media outlets and other government organs several times. A report in the Jilin Daily on June 7 said that Safeness Sutra was a "hymn of peace in the form of rhymes, and its rich content could be deemed as a small encyclopedia which is easy for readers to access relevant knowledge."  

In a recommendation article posted by the Department of Emergency Management of Jilin Province in May, it said the book was jointly published by the People's Publishing House and Qunzhong Publishing House, according to news site thepaper.cn. 

After reading the recommendations, some netizens said that the publisher, officials and media organizations that recommended the book must be trying to curry favor with He. 

Some netizens also suggested the local government investigate the whole incident on suspicion of graft, as the book may have been published using public funds. 

An employee at Jilin public security department told news site thepaper.cn on Tuesday that it was done by He alone, and that he was not available for interview as he was busy working.

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