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Germany: Children's and youth book publisher obeys Chinese censorship demands

Largely unnoticed by the German public, a bizarre scene is taking place around a children's book from a German children's and youth book publisher, which has now even reached the Chinese diplomatic mission in Germany.

The Chinese-language Chinesische Handelszeitung, which is published by Chinese abroad living in Germany and is primarily aimed at the Chinese living in German-speaking countries and business people coming from China, reported in an article on March 4 of a great deal of excitement among the Chinese in Germany.

Accordingly, a children's book from Hamburg dared to write about a "Chinese origin of the corona virus". This triggered a great wave of outrage among the Chinese in Germany, who would perceive this as an insult to the Chinese.

What exactly happened there?
The great Chinese excitement revolves around the children's book "Lesemaus 185: A Corona Rainbow for Anna and Moritz", which is published by the Hamburg Carlsen Verlag. In that book, "the most important tips for daycare and elementary school on the right behavior in the Corona period" are told in an easy-to-understand way.

In it, the boy Moritz tells that the “virus comes from China and from there it has spread all over the world”.

According to the Chinese trade newspaper, this sentence by Moritz caused great resentment among the Chinese. Several Chinese people promptly wrote protest mails to the publisher.

The announcement by Carlsen Verlag that the “insensitive formulation” would be changed in a next reprint of the title was not enough for many Chinese, according to the Chinese trade newspaper . According to an article, many also demanded an apology from the author (Constanze Steindamm) of this children's book for this formulation and a recall of the book.

The Chinese trade newspaper noted that the corona virus was first reported in Wuhan. However, this did not mean that the virus originated there.

However, the incident also brought some German-Chinese people, as "Germany connoisseurs", on the plan to recommend advice on how to proceed correctly in the incident.

A German-Chinese publicist and journalist named “Lei Zhou” who grew up in Germany wrote an article in his official WeChat account in which he suggested six “tips” for the Chinese in Germany to proceed correctly in the case of the Hamburg children's book. Among other things, Zhou suggests that the Chinese, if they want to take legal action against the publisher or the author of the book in this incident, they should focus on "possible negative effects on children of Chinese descent in kindergartens, e.g. through rejection on the part of German children".

Apparently someone here who is familiar with German customs knows exactly what political correctness means in Germany and where you should best start to enforce your demands in Germany.

Carlsen Verlag apologizes and surrenders to censorship
He should be right. Because barely three days after receiving the first protest mail, Carlsen Verlag apologized for the wording in the children's book in a public statement, according to the Chinesische Handelszeitung. The publisher would no longer formulate the statement about the origin of the virus in this way today. Here is their apology published on their website:
Translation: "'A corona rainbow for Anna and Moritz' was conceived in spring 2020 in order to offer children and their parents a book as quickly as possible with which the far-reaching changes in everyday life in the pandemic can be explained and discussed with one another. It was important to us to convey the complex topic of Corona as child-friendly as possible and based on facts. The statement that a child made in the book about the origin of the virus corresponded to the reporting status at the time, we would no longer phrase it that way today. If the wording hurts the feelings of readers, we are very sorry, this was not our intention and we ask those concerned for their apologies.

We have taken up letters on this topic and have stopped delivering the book with immediate effect. Existing copies will be destroyed and the reprint has already been corrected. As soon as 'A Corona Rainbow for Anna and Moritz' is available again, it will be a corrected edition."

The Chinesische Handelszeitung celebrates this as a "success in the war against insulting the Chinese and a victory in the fight against discrimination". The Chinese in Germany had "won this battle all along the line" and set an example for future generations.

But that's not all. Chinese groups in Germany are planning a letter of protest to Carlsen Verlag and are collecting signatures. On Saturday, the “Council of the Chinese” in Frankfurt was supposed to collect signatures for the protest letter because of “inappropriate wording regarding the origin of the corona virus”.
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