Page 16 of the book, titled “Improving preschoolers’ intelligence comprehensively” by Dan Tri Publisher, features a picture in which the Chinese national flag is hung on the roof of a school.
The picture is high quality, and even a 5-year-old can recognize that “something is wrong with the flag.”
According to Bui Thi Huong, the director of Dan Tri Publisher, the book is the translated, copyrighted version of a Chinese original.
The cove of the book, titled “Improving preschoolers’ intelligence comprehensively” by Dan Tri Publisher
Huong asserted that under the terms of the contract, her company and Huong Thuy Co., the distributor, had to retain the original text and pictures.
“The original is designed for the Chinese education system, so the Chinese flag must be hung. I don’t see anything wrong with that,” Huong elaborated.
Regarding the preface line that states, “The book is designed based on the Vietnamese Ministry of Education and Training’s kindergarten education,” Huong claimed that this was not present in the electronic file of the translated book, which her partner sent her.
“Perhaps the distributor later added that sentence to boost sales,” she reiterated.
Huong admitted that the preface and lack of annotation on the book’s origin does lead clients to assume that the book is made in Vietnam.
“We’ll demand that our partner fix the preface, but the book’s content is unlikely to be revised, as that would be a breach of contract,” Huong stressed.
“I think such a book, which the publisher and distributor clearly note is designed for Vietnamese kids in accordance with Vietnamese education, is supposed to have content and pictures suitable for Vietnamese kids. The Chinese flag certainly shouldn’t be there,” said Pham Tat Dong, vice chair of Vietnam Education Promotion Association, to which Dan Tri Publisher belongs to.
“We’re totally unaware of this book, as Dan Tri didn’t consult us. The company must be held accountable for it,” said Ngo Thi Hop, head of the Ministry of Education and Training’s Kindergarten Education Office.
Nguyen Thi Kim Thanh, former head of the Ho Chi Minh City Department of Education and Training’s Kindergarten Education Section, put the incident partly down to loose censorship.
Roughly 500 Tuoi Tre readers voiced their concern over the incident, and many of them called for the confiscation, revision and even abolition of the book.
“The matter here is more the fact that those responsible have cheated readers over which national flag is hung,” commented reader Xuan Dong.
“With the sentence, ‘Professors from prestigious schools recommend this book’ on the cover and the preface, I’m sure every reader will think that this book is designed in Vietnam, or at least is adapted from a Western original to suit Vietnamese education and culture. This is a blatant fraud,” Dong noted.
China is currently locked in spats with Vietnam and the Philippines over the Hoang Sa (Paracel) and Truong Sa (Spratly) archipelagos in the East Sea.