Just days after e-commerce site Taobao announced a ban on the sale of foreign books, four anonymous publishing sources revealed that Beijing has set a strict quota on the number of foreign children’s picture books that can be published in the Mainland this year.
The sources disclosed that, in addition to discouraging foreign publications, publishing houses are also encouraged to promote more Mainland-written and illustrated picture books.
“[The government said] there had been a bit too much inflow of ideology [coming from foreign picture books],” one source told the South China Morning Post. The quota is part of a broad campaign to reduce the influence of foreign ideas—because nothing says “foreign ideas” more than the innocuous family values of Peppa Pig, which is one of the three best selling picture books on the Mainland.
Foreign picture books and cartoons have become increasingly popular among young Chinese readers, with other international bestsellers like Barefoot Books World Atlas, Pete the Cat, and Guess How Much I Love You far surpassing their national equivalents in readership.
One Shenzhen mother said foreign picture books are better at simple yet meaningful stories, while mainland ones are wordier and too focused on teaching Chinese morals. “There are real masters of picture books abroad, but at home, we haven’t invested as much,” the mother said.
In the post-one-child era of little princes and princesses, parents are more willing than ever to invest big in early childhood education. So if Beijing wants to attack Peppa Pig, it’s going to need to come up with an acceptable alternative, and fast.
May we suggest “Pipa Zhu?”
[Image via Brainchild Magazine]