Vietnam publishing house recalls picture books with bogus Chinese map
An illustrative map printed on a volume of the book shows China's infamous nine-dash line. Photo by VnExpress/Viet Tuan

A Hanoi-based publishing house has recalled a picture book after the infamous Chinese nine-dash line crept into it, undetected.

The Gioi (World) Publishing House and its partner Dinh Ti Books Company have recalled all picture books titled “Wow! Amazing Secrets for students,” after many readers spotted them carrying the bogus map.

The nine-dash line is something conjured up by China to lay bogus claim to huge swathes of the East Sea, also known as the South China Sea. The line violates Vietnam’s sovereignty over its waters, including two archipelagoes.

The book, published in March last year, includes 12 volumes dedicated to secondary and high school students. However, many parents found one of its volumes containing the controversial nine-dash line.

Doan Tran Lam, editor-in-chief of the publishing house, admitted to the mistake and asked its partner to withdraw all the distributed books nationwide and refund customers. 

“The book conveyed good messages for students but it included an “extremely tiny” illustrative map with the controversial nine-dash line, and editors and concerned authorities failed to spot it or misjudged it as a maritime route,” he said Tuesday.

A representative of Dinh Ti Books Company said the book’s original author, a Chinese national, had drawn the controversial map, but it was overlooked by both publishers and authorities on the Vietnamese side.

However, it was an “unintentional” mistake during the checking process that let the map show up on the Vietnamese version. 

“It’s a big lesson and a warning for those working in the publishing industry that before they purchase and translate foreign books with content related to sovereignty issues,” Lam said.

Earlier, the Vietnam eCommerce and Digital Economy Agency (iDEA) had demanded that e-commerce service Shopee Vietnam get rid of a toy map showing the infamous nine-dash line.

The nine-dash line had also caused an uproar in Vietnam in May when 14 Chinese tourists wore T-shirts carrying it as they passed through immigration at the Cam Ranh International Airport in the central province of Khanh Hoa.