Publisher apologizes for wrong illustration of national hero in children’s history book, to recall and destroy all problematic books
Published: May 10, 2023 07:08 PM
The problematic illustration which has sparked online uproars. Photo: Screenshot from website

The problematic illustration which has sparked online uproars. Photo: Screenshot from website

A university publishing house in Beijing apologized on Wednesday for wrongly depicting Chinese hero Ding Ruchang in a children’s history book, after the issue was publicly criticized on Chinese social networking platforms. The publisher has promised to recall and destroy all the problematic books. 

In a statement released on Wednesday, Beijing University of Technology Press acknowledged its mistake for using an inappropriate illustration for the Chinese historical hero Ding Ruchang, who served as a commander of the Beiyang Fleet of the imperial Chinese navy during the First Sino-Japanese War (1894-95) during the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911), in a book on history for young children. 

The publishing house has suspended online and offline sales of the book and promised to fully recall and destroy all the books. It expressed deep regret and apologized for the bad influence that  the mistake has caused. 

The wrong illustration was exposed online by a netizen on Monday, which shows Chinese hero Ding Ruchang “surrendering to Japanese enemies.” In truth, Ding committed suicide after he refused to surrender to Japanese enemies in 1895. 

According to the netizen, there was no text explanation to the illustration in the book and there are several similar illustrations that distort historic truth in the book. 

The post soon sparked online uproars against the book which netizens commented as “completely distorting the history” and brought outcry for immediate corrections. 
Some netizens pointed out that young children would think Ding surrendered if they saw the illustration. 

A netizen found out the origin of the illustration from a collection of ukiyoe prints which present the history of the first Sino-Japanese war of 1894-1895 created by a group of Japanese artists, pointing out that the publishing house should have marked its origin and using is without proper explanation can lead to misunderstanding. 

Another netizen who claimed to be a descendant of Ding said that the descendants of Ding’s family would contact the publishing house and consider a lawsuit against such a smear to the national hero from a war merely over a hundred years ago. 

The university publishing house said the university has launched a work group to investigate into the incident and those held accountable for the incident will be seriously dealt with according to regulations. 

The problematic book is one of the titles from a collection of 10 books on history with a timespan from the Qin Dynasty (221BC–206BC) to modern China. It was published for the first time in September, 2017 and the 10-book collection is priced at 300 yuan ($43.35), according to