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Controversial Chinese schoolbook recalled after deemed as ‘misleading’

A Chinese textbook used in Victorian schools has been recalled after being deemed “misleading” by experts for showing a controversial map of China ‘owning’ 90 per cent of the South China Sea.

The Senior Chinese Course: Chinese Language, Culture and Society textbook,  which was being used in VCE classes at 11 schools in Victoria, was believed to promote pro-Beijing propaganda.

A total of 633 copies of the book have sold in Australia.

The map with the controversial dotted line shown in the book. (Nine/Supplied)
“It is highly misleading to portray the nine-dash line in an educational textbook as a legitimate map of China and the region,” Professor Rory Medcalf, the head of the Australian National University’s national security college, told The Guardian.

“For it to appear in a textbook in Australia puts it at odds not only with the sensitivities of much of the region, but also with international law and Australian government policy.”

There were also two pages published in the book which were called the ‘Chinese Dream’, which Professor Medcalf described as being “straight out of the party playbook”.

The authors of the textbook, Jixing Xu and Wei Ha, are both in charge of Chinese at two prestigious Melbourne private schools, Scotch College and Camberwell Grammar.

They claimed the book was “never intended to take a political stance”, with the publisher including the map.

Publisher Cengage apologised for the “carelessness” map, insisting the nine-dash line was an “editorial oversight”.

South China Sea claims

China’s latest round of military drills in the South China Sea are meant to show observers Beijing is prepared to fight on multiple fronts, experts have said.

The Maritime Safety Administration said the exercises would run from Monday through Sunday.

It warned outside vessels to steer five nautical miles (9.26 kilometres) clear of the drill area but otherwise gave no details.

The latest round of Chinese naval drills in the South China Sea are designed to “send a message”. (Zha Chun-Ming/Xinhua via AP)
China announced late last month that it had held drills in the South China Sea involving long-range bombers and other aircraft.

Chinese forces have also confronted US Naval vessels conducting “freedom of navigation operations” near Chinese-held islands, as well as forces from Australia and countries that challenge China’s claim to the entire strategic waterway.

Research Fellow Collin Koh from Nanyang Techonological University in Singapore told the South China Morning Post the current drills, held simultaneously in four locations, were designed to send a message.”

Operationally, it’s to showcase the PLA’s ability to carry out major mobilisation of forces for training across multiple sea areas – which also highlights that the PLA isn’t affected in any way by the pandemic,” he said.

The vast majority of China’s claims in the region were dismissed as unlawful by a Hague tribunal in 2016, a ruling which Beijing has continued to defy.

More recently, the US has also dismissed China’s claims and stepped up its own operations in the region.

The US Navy says the aircraft carrier Ronald Reagan and its strike group entered the South China Sea earlier this month and have been carrying out air operations.

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