Tuesday, 14 March 2017

China cracks down on foreign children’s books

The Communist party of China has launched a campaign to prevent foreign ideas from seeping into Chinese soil. As a part of this campaign, it has ordered publishers to cut down on the printing of foreign children’s books. Popular children’s titles such as Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Peppa Pig, and Winnie the Pooh have already taken a hit.

China has an enormous market for picture books as it has a population of around 220 million children under fourteen. Last year, over 40,000 children’s picture books were published in China.

The Community party crackdown has killed any chances Japanese and South Korean books might have had of getting printed in China. Picture books from other countries, however, will be given limited opportunities.

An editor of a publishing house owned by the country said that the Communist party feels that foreign picture books have brought with them western ideologies that can neither be accepted nor tolerated. The editor said: “The government has deliberately decided to constrain imported books and protect those written by Chinese authors.”

Alibaba had announced on Friday that it will stop selling foreign storybooks on Taobao, a popular online store in China to “create a safe and secure online shopping environment to enhance consumer confidence and satisfaction.”

For the past several years, China has been struggling to curb cultural influences from the west. When Xi Jinping became the country’s leader, he decided to take this issue seriously and intensify efforts for the realization of the “China Dream.” He began by urging universities in China to become strongholds of the communist party. Yuan Guiren, the country’s education minister, warned against forces that have the power to encroach on the minds and hearts of the country’s young.

So far, the ban is oral and its aim is to make people think according to the dogma of the Community Party. Those in the publishing world are skeptical about the success of the ban on foreign children’s storybooks. An editor said: “I can’t imagine this restriction to be possible, because its implementation is so difficult, and it also has no benefit whatsoever for the people or the country.”

Foreign titles are very popular in China. The list of top 10 best sellers drawn up by Amazon China includes Guess How Much I Love You by Sam McBratney and Harry Potter. 

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