State textbook publisher denies censorship of the Cultural Revolution

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The South China Morning Post reports that the People’s Education Press (PEP), a state-run publication house, dismissed (in Chinese) widespread accusations that it had removed content about the Cultural Revolution in its newly released history textbook for eighth-grade students, adding that the historical event would be well covered in the second volume of the book, which would be distributed to schools across the country in March.

The controversy started earlier this week when an internet user posted some photos (in Chinese) of the old and new textbooks on Weibo. In the old book, there was a chapter named “Ten years of the Cultural Revolution,” whereas the new book appears to have omitted an introduction of that period of time. In addition, to describe the 1960s in China, the old version reads, “Mao Zedong wrongfully believed that the central leadership of the party had the problem of revisionism and the party and the country were facing the risk of the restoration of capitalism.” In comparison, the latest version writes, “Mao Zedong believed that the party and the country were facing the risk of the restoration of capitalism.”

After the photos were up, Chinese social media users were quick to criticize the publisher for censoring politically sensitive content. And since PEP operates under the Ministry of Education of China, the backlash was soon elevated to a torrent of denunciation of China’s not being open enough about its history in educating young students.