China Fires 25 Education Officials for Ugly Drawings of Children

The Chinese government has reprimanded or fired more than 25 education officials after investigating that drawings in math books portrayed Chinese children as “ugly.”

The Ministry of Education said in a statement Monday that the drawings “did not meet the fundamental requirements of a moral education.” “The general style of the illustrations does not match the aesthetic taste of the audience. For example, some characters are ugly, have a bad mentality, and don’t show a positive image of the nation’s children.”

In May, there was a commotion on Chinese social media about some books by the Chinese textbook publisher. Some called the drawings racist because they depict slant-eyed children, and others depict male genitals on boys’ pants, and children wear clothes with stars and stripes. The latter was seen as pro-American clothing.

On WeChat, China’s Twitter, the publisher issued a public apology shortly after the media storm. The books for the new school year have been adjusted. The ministry said the publisher had not understood the purpose of the educational texts on Monday. It pledged to strengthen the Communist Party’s authority over the teaching materials to ensure that it “always maintains the right political direction and value orientation.”

In recent years, China has tightened control over textbooks and curricula to encourage patriotism among the youth. Books from non-Chinese publishers are banned, and students are taught about President Xi Jinping’s ideological lessons.

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