Front Page of the Day

Wen Jiabao corrects a geography textbook

Beijing Times, September 1, 2010

The eye-catching front-page photo on today's Beijing Times comes from the scene of a massive accident on Beijing's north Fifth Ring Road. Early yesterday morning, an overturned truck spilled its cargo across all eastbound lanes near Guangze Bridge, blocking traffic and leading to two five-car pile-ups. There were no deaths, and the roadway was cleared by 5 am.

The Beijing News also featured the accident on its front page, but the story was oddly nowhere to be found on the cover of the Beijing Youth Daily.

Although the Beijing Times does cover today's big news stories — mobile phone service now requires an ID, a China Express airplane that scraped a wingtip on the ground while landing at Beijing Airport — the paper's top story is a local follow-up report about Premier Wen Jiabao and a geography textbook.

In 2009, at the beginning of the fall term, the premier paid a visit to a Beijing middle school where he studied math, literature, geography, research methods, and music with local students. During the geography lesson, Wen pointed out that the school's textbooks included Shaanxi and Gansu as part of Northern China (华北), when they clearly belonged to Western China (华西).

The textbook in question has been revised, and students this term will learn that Shaanxi and Gansu now belong to "The North" (北方), which unifies Northern China and Northeastern China into a single geographic unit.

"Northern China" (dotted) vs. "The North" (image from Beijing Times)

This edition also eliminates standalone chapters for Taiwan Province and Hong Kong & Macau, which are now treated as part of "The South."

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There are currently 4 Comments for Wen Jiabao corrects a geography textbook.

Comments on Wen Jiabao corrects a geography textbook

How very North Korea

Surely 北京 should be 北方?

Don't think this correction will make it to the front page of a newspaper however :-)

Thanks, correction. Muscle memory had me type YI in place of YY....see Muphry's Law.

I don't get it. What does this have anything to do with Mr. Wen? Look at the map, the part of "Western China" questioned by Wen Jiabao still belongs to "the North", just like what it was before. Geographically speaking, the premier was wrong before, and the new textbook says he is still wrong now. The inclusion of Northeastern China into a larger geographic unit doesn't change any of that.

It's like you claimed Alaska was not part of the United States, the addition of Hawaii doesn't make you right.

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