Chinese library burns religious and pro-democracy publications

Scholars concerned for safety as online criticism removed from all websites in China

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Chinese librarians burn 65 "forbidden" books. (Sina Weibo photo)

Chinese librarians burn 65 "forbidden" books. (Sina Weibo photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) – A library in Gansu, China, announced in October that it would start to examine its collections and remove publications that encouraged thoughts against the Chinese Communist Party (CCP).

A picture of two librarians burning 65 religious and pro-democracy works of literature from Gansu library soon surfaced on the Internet. The picture drew criticism and fear from the Chinese community as netizens associated the act with the infamous book burning policy of the Qin Dynasty (221-206 BCE), reported UDN.

In 213 BCE, Chinese emperor Qin Shi Huang ordered all philosophical texts and poetry that he viewed as potential threats to his dynasty to be burned. Approximately 460 Confucian scholars were also buried alive by the ruler known for his cruelty.

As of Monday (Dec. 9) morning, all comments and remarks related to the incident had been removed from Chinese websites, including the dominant Chinese internet search engine Baidu. However, criticism continued to surge on international social media platforms, demanding the library disclose the names of the books being burned.

Chinese historian Zhang Lifan (章立凡) also warned the book burning policy could contradict lessons taught by the tragic ending of Qin Shi Huang. Foreign scholars also suspected the Gansu incident was related to the Chinese Ministry of Education's recent release of the national book list for elementary, middle and high school libraries, reported CNA.


Cartoon of Qin Dynasty book-burning and scholar-burying policy. (CNA photo)