Publisher denies textbooks favor West

By Cao Siqi Source:Global Times Published: 2016-4-29 0:48:01

Claim that primary school books denigrate China ‘narrow-minded’: expert

China's official textbook publisher on Wednesday denied online accusations that its primary school Chinese textbooks advocate Western culture while disgracing the Chinese people.

Experts pointed out that such accusations are a reflection of narrow-minded nationalist sentiment and a lack of cultural confidence.

An article criticizing the People's Education Press (PEP) published on April 20 on - a news site based in South China's Hainan Province - has gone viral online recently. The article chastised the PEP for excessively praising foreigners in its primary Chinese textbooks while belittling the Chinese people's image.

Pictures posted in the article showed that stories from the textbooks used Russian children's names in one lesson about friendship, while a Japanese child was the protagonist of a story about honesty. In contrast, the article highlighted a story featuring a lazy and selfish Chinese character.

Some stories also featured main characters of famous Western historical figures, such as Leonardo da Vinci and Vladimir Lenin.

The PEP denied the accusations on its official Sina Weibo account on Wednesday, saying that 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. It added that the textbooks also selected large numbers of stories that praise China's heroes, insisting that it has never tried to belittle the Chinese people.

A teacher surnamed Tian, who has been teaching primary school Chinese in Central China's Henan Province for over 10 years, told the Global Times that more and more stories that disseminate honesty and critical thought in primary school textbooks are written by foreign writers, while the number of stories about Chinese traditions, especially rural cultural life, has grown smaller.

Wang Shi, executive vice president of the Chinese Culture Promotion Society, told the Global Times, "I do not believe that the editors were trying to praise foreign culture on purpose. The online accusations show that some Chinese people are still not confident about their native culture and are always on guard against any foreign culture."

Wang stressed that such narrow-minded nationalist sentiments should be abandoned.

Ideology in China's textbooks has been a heated topic for some time, with incumbent Chinese Education Minister Yuan Guiren vowing in January 2015 that the country should "never let textbooks promoting Western values appear in our classes."

However, an article published on news site on Thursday said the accusation against the PEP is false, as the examples listed in the report were prejudicially chosen.

The article presented figures on the stories in Chinese textbooks for Grades 1 to 3, which showed that the number of stories praising Chinese figures is similar to the number praising foreign figures, so it is difficult to see how the textbooks are "worshiping all things foreign."

A Hunan Province primary school Chinese teacher surnamed Shen said that she has never heard any of her students saying that foreigners are better than Chinese. Shen added that it is good for children to learn more about foreign culture, but more attention should be paid to traditional Chinese culture.

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