Update: Publisher apologizes for incorrect use of picture of Japanese soldier to depict Chinese model soldier in a reference book
Published: May 30, 2022 06:04 PM Updated: May 30, 2022 06:01 PM
Screenshot of the controversial textbook. Photo: Sina Weibo
Screenshot of the controversial exam reference book with grave mistakes in its illustrations, published by the Shaanxi Xinhua Publishing & Media and the Shaanxi People's Education Press. Photo: Sina Weibo

The Shaanxi People's Education Press, one of the publishers of a reference book with grave mistakes in its illustrations, responded to the online controversy on Tuesday that it discovered the problem in 2017, recalled and destroyed most of the books that had been sold, and severely punished those in charge.

The problematic illustrations caused heated discussions online, which sounded the alarm to further implement quality control of book publishing, read the statement issued by Shaanxi People's Education Press.

The reference book for primary school students featured a photo of a suspected Japanese soldier carrying a Chinese old lady on his back which was depicted as the Chinese model soldier, Lei Feng. The publisher has come under fire amid a nationwide outcry for thorough investigations into problematic books for children. The incident happened after a national textbooks publishing house was criticized for racism and pornography.

Being a bestseller for more than 10 years, the supplementary reading material titled Juyifansan Tongbu Qiaojiang Jinglian for primary school students, introduces the Chinese PLA model soldier Lei Feng who is renowned for his generosity and altruistic deeds.

According to the cover of the book posted by netizens on Chinese social media on Sunday, the book was jointly compiled by the "Juyifansan" series, which produces teaching materials, and Jinxing Int'l Education Group Limited, which is specialized in printed books and digital books publication and internet education.

Two state-owned publishing houses in Xi'an, capital of Northwest China's Shaanxi Province, the Shaanxi Xinhua Publishing & Media and the Shaanxi People's Education Press, jointly published the exam reference book.

The Shaanxi People's Education Press said in the statement on Tuesday that 18,070 copies of the controversial reference book, which was published in December 2016 and hit the market in late January 2017, were printed.

Many netizens said the problem of the book is more serious compared with the textbooks with racist and pornographic problems since the photo was a staged photograph by the Japanese army to downplay Japan's wartime atrocities committed in China during World War II.

A netizen pointed out that the old lady's feet were apparently broken due to its opposite direction.

Another netizen was worried that such a misleading book can be taken advantage of by Japan to defy the crimes it had committed during the war.

It is one of the latest cases amid the "ugly textbook illustration" scandal that has been brewing nationwide with a growing number of netizens calling for a thorough scrutiny of problematic press houses, after the textbooks published by the People's Education Press sparked uproar last week for the controversial covers and illustrations.

China's Ministry of Education, which administers the People's Education Press, issued a statement on Saturday, ordering a thorough inspection of elementary and middle school textbooks nationwide and urged the publication house to make rectification.

Global Times