PARIS: A French nursery rhyme that was deemed racist towards Chinese people has been banned by French education authorities after online criticism, according to reports.
Chang Le Petit Chinois, or Chang The Little Chinese, stereotypes the titular Chang as a short, flip-flop and round hat-wearing person with “awfully small” eyes who eats rice squatting down.
The nursery rhyme had been taught and sung in a nursery in Aubervilliers in the northeastern suburb of Paris for more than a decade, French media Le Figaro reported on Monday (Jan 1), until a video of it posted on Facebook by "an Asian parent" on Dec 26 brought it into the spotlight.
The post drew criticism from netizens in China, with some Sina Weibo users, China’s equivalent of Twitter, saying it showed how little the French really knew about Chinese or Asian people.
"It is over the line especially because it is a song for the little ones. Cultivating them with such a biased and prejudiced world view, it is terribly wrong," wrote one Sina Weibo user.
"We have zero tolerance for things related to national dignity," another netizen wrote.
Dominique Sopo, head of French anti-racist non-governmental organisation SOS Racisme, criticised the rhyme, saying its portrayal of Chinese as short and small-eyed was racial stereotyping.
"Full of cliches … It reduces the Chinese (and therefore, in the minds of many, people of Asian origin) to a few summary traits", he said in a Facebook post.
"The French have discovered the world for a long time and therefore need no simplification to apprehend it. We are in France in 2017. A country where there are many people of Asian origin. How can we accept that people are reduced to a few cliches and referred to with a physical abnormality?"
According to the Le Figaro report, the French education ministry has withdrawn the song from teaching, while Les Ateliers du Preau, the publishers of the song, said it would apologise to the children and parents after they return from school and would withdraw the rhyme from future use.