China Clamps Down On Another Serious Threat To The Middle Kingdom: Western Animal Cartoon Books For Children
from the who's-afraid-of-peppa-pig? dept
Here's the latest instalment in the long-running Techdirt series "just when you thought there was nothing left to control, China comes up with something else it wants to throttle", as reported by the South China Morning Post:
An order from Beijing will drastically cut the number of foreign picture books for children published in mainland China this year, four publishing sources told the South China Morning Post.
The order opens a new front in a broad campaign to reduce the influence of foreign ideas and enhance ideological control, applying restrictions to animal cartoons and fairy tales written for toddlers and older children that have few political implications. Chinese universities were previously ordered to limit the use of Western textbooks and promote communist dogma.
According to the article, China's state publishing administration has imposed a quota system on domestic publishers, limiting the number of foreign picture books that can be published in any one year. Apparently, the aim is two-fold: to promote children's books created by domestic authors and illustrators; and to stop innocent young Chinese minds being seduced by the subtle charms of Western propaganda in the form of cartoon stories about animals.
But it's not just children that the Chinese authorities want to shield from harmful ideas. Quartz has a related story about a more general clampdown on Western publications that has been imposed on vendors using the leading online shopping site Taobao, part of the Chinese Internet giant Alibaba:
Taobao has ordered all vendors to stop selling foreign media starting today -- even if authorities have approved the media for circulation in China. The online shopping platform, owned by Alibaba, has been one of the few places to browse overseas publications free from censors, largely because the site's business model allows individual vendors to do business directly with customers. It's also helped that the daigou, or overseas agents, can evade import duties by carrying or shipping goods into China.
As the Quartz article notes, the new rule cites an obscure 1991 law; its unexpected invocation now seems related to a general clampdown around the highly-sensitive two-week National People's Congress, currently under way in Beijing. Perhaps Western cartoon animals have fallen victim to the same paranoia.