Beijing: A Chinese textbook used in Beijing secondary schools was criticised for including a story from the Bible, after some outraged citizens claimed the book spreads Western values.
"(We) added some extracts from the Bible's Book of Genesis into the textbook to broaden students' horizons and introduce them to Western myths," an employee of the Beijing Academy of Educational Science (BAES), one of the textbook's two compilers and a textbook selection consultant for capital education authorities, said on Tuesday.
The text, which also includes several Chinese myths, was published in 2006 and is used in Chinese language classes for first-year middle school students.
Wang Kai, director of the BAES textbook centre, told the Global Times that the textbook has been adopted by about 40 percent of secondary schools in Beijing.
The textbook triggered heated discussion online, as some netizens questioned why the Christian content appeared in a textbook in a secular country.
Columnist Wang Xiaoshi published a commentary on Hainan-based news site cwzg.cn, saying that the textbook violates China's education law, which mandates that the country adopts the principle of separation of education and religion.
Wang cited a comment by scholar and national political advisor He Xin that humanities textbooks are a symbol of national unity and also reflect the dignity of education.
However, Professor Yao Xinyong of the Chinese Department of Jinan University said that neither scholars nor the public should read an ideological or political perspective into the textbook.
"The purpose of basic education is to offer systematic knowledge of human culture, both domestic and foreign," Yao added.
China's recent revision of its primary and secondary school Chinese language textbooks has received mixed reactions from the public and scholars. Some have complained the textbooks excessively praise foreigners and belittle the Chinese people.