By Tom Bannister
First there was Patriotic Education, teaching China’s youth to love the motherland. Now there is ‘fast-food education’, teaching China’s youth to love saturated fat. Chinese kids won’t just become nationalists, they’ll become obese and spotty nationalists (the worst kind).
Last week a fourth-grade pupil from Fuzhou Experimental Primary School sparked an investigation into his school textbook after he accused the publishing company of putting McDonalds ‘advertising’ in the book’s stories. The pupil, Fang Qiu, protested to his teacher that there were several McDonalds references in the reading-comprehension book (intended for 8-year olds) called ‘Scattered paper-money’ (散落的钞票).
The textbook is published by the Beijing Normal University Press and Fang Qiu sent a letter to the editor-in-chief asking him to explain the product placement. The Chinese press got hold of the story and interviewed another editor, a Mr Wang, from the publishing company, who said:
“We are very grateful to the Fuzhou pupils for raising this issue and really admire their independent thinking and ability to identify problems. The new textbooks are currently being revised to adopt the issues that Fang Qiu and his classmates have raised. All the references to brand-names in the ‘Scattered paper-money’ book will be taken out. From now onwards we will do our utmost to avoid something like this happening again”
This is not the first time that subtle advertising has been picked up in Chinese fourth-grade textbooks. Last year in Jiangsu a textbook received a lot of attention after netizens suspected that it advertised a local private hospital.
A Chinese-language news report on the Fuzhou story below: