China currently represents a massive market for children’s picture books, with more than 40,000 books reportedly published last year.
However, according to Hong Kong’s South China Morning Post, Chinese publishers have received orders that the number of foreign picture books being printed in China must be cut. A source, who is an editor at a state-owned publishing house, said Communist party officials had complained that foreign storybooks had caused an intolerable “inflow of ideology” from the west.
On Friday, e-commerce giant Alibaba announced it would ban the sale of all foreign publications on Taobao, one of China’s most popular online shopping sites in order “to create a safe and secure online shopping environment to enhance consumer confidence and satisfaction”.
China has struggled for years to stave off the influx of foreign cultural influences and those efforts have intensified since Xi Jinping became the country’s top leader in 2012, vowing to promote what he has referred to as “the China Dream”.
However, doubts have surfaced as to whether Beijing will be successful in enforcing the prohibition of children’s books featuring Western icons such as Peppa Pig. One Chinese editor commented: “I can’t imagine this restriction to be possible, because its implementation is so difficult, and it also has no benefit whatsoever for the people or the country.”