China has fired or reprimanded 27 officials after outrage over illustrations in a series of math books for primary school children.

After an investigation, the Ministry of Education states, among other things, that some of the children depicted are “ugly” and the illustrations “do not show a positive image” of Chinese children.

The ministry said that the drawings do not meet the “fundamental requirements for moral education.” In addition, it is reported that the “general style of the illustrations does not match the aesthetic taste of the public.”

The illustrations went viral on Chinese social media in May. Angry Chinese wrote, among other things, that they were racist because of the small eyes of the children. They also found it inappropriate that some boys have a clear bulge visible. That some children wore clothes with stars and stripes was seen as pro-American.

The publishing house, a state-owned company, apologized after the fuss and then also announced that it would adjust the books for the new school year. The ministry states that the maker has not understood the purpose of the educational texts.

In China, rules for teaching materials have been tightened in recent years to encourage patriotism among children. For example, schools are not allowed to use textbooks from foreign publishers.

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