Taiwan lawmaker asks government to ban toys containing Chinese propaganda

Audio toys with content that undermines Taiwan's sovereignty currently circulating

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DPP legislator Chao Tien-lin.

DPP legislator Chao Tien-lin. (CNA photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) legislator Chao Tien-lin (趙天麟) has called on the government to ban children’s toys containing Chinese propaganda messages.

“The biggest island in China is called Taiwan,” “October 1 is National Day, celebrated with songs and dances,” and “July 1 is the birthday of the [communist] party, and the whole nation beams with joy” are some of the messages repeatedly uttered by a cute, white plastic rabbit dressed in red.

The DPP legislator held a press conference on Monday (March 23) with Kaohsiung City Councilor Lin Chih-hung (林智鴻) in Taipei. The Ministry of Economic Affairs has approved the toy’s import without taking its audio content into consideration, said Chao, adding that it has been circulating in physical and online retailers in Taiwan for a long time, with a price tag of NT$160 (US$5).

The toy, called “Xin Xin rabbit story machine," is one of 450,000 toys which circulate in the Taiwanese market every year, according to Chao. He added that these audio toys often contain Chinese terms and idioms that are not commonly used in Taiwan.

Chao asked that legislation be amended at the national level and actions be taken by local governments to prevent such toys from entering school campuses.

Wang Tsung-lin (王聰麟), a senior official at the Bureau of Standards, Metrology, and Inspection, said the story machine was categorized as a children’s toy and was thus inspected only for safety. He agreed to modify regulations so as to prevent toys containing messages that are politically controversial, violent, or pornographic from being imported to the island or circulated in the Taiwanese market.

Wang Hui-chiu (王慧秋), a senior education ministry official, added that the ministry would ask local governments to scrutinize materials kindergartens have chosen for their pupils. The issue was also brought up by the lawmaker at a legislative session on Monday morning in which Chiu Chui-cheng (邱垂正), deputy minister of the Mainland Affairs Council, responded that the authorities could restrict imports of Chinese products containing messages that undermine Taiwan’s sovereignty.