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Reports: Library in China burned 'illegal' books

By
Elizabeth Shim
Chinese articles on the burning of books have been removed following uproar on social media. File Photo by Stephen Shaver/UPI
Chinese articles on the burning of books have been removed following uproar on social media. File Photo by Stephen Shaver/UPI | License Photo

Dec. 9 (UPI) -- Reports in China that a library staff burned dozens of "illegal" books is drawing controversy in the country, but the articles and social media posts on the matter have been removed.

The "national first-class" library in Zhenyuan county, Gansu province in northwest China, was the site of a book burning, according to photos and a story from China's Red Star news on Sunday.

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"There's nothing to say about this, and no reason to discuss it," said a library source in the report. The South China Morning Post reported Monday the story had been taken down, in addition to commentary from state-run Beijing Times.

The Beijing Times had described the book burning as a "savage" act.

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"How books and other publications are treated, at any point in time, is a test of society's attitude to knowledge and civilization, and it cannot be random and savage," the Chinese article read, before it was taken down, according to the Post.

A state-sanctioned report published in October to a government site included a photo of two library staff members burning books outside the entrance of the library. According to the story, the library destroyed 65 books. The staff called the move a "thorough cleanup" and described the destroyed books as "illegal publications and religious publications, especially books, pictorial publications and visual content that showed leanings."

Hong Kong-based Mingpao Daily reported the burning of the books was "unprecedented." In the past, Chinese authorities shredded books, according to the report.

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The paper also said online commenters in China compared the incident to the burning of books by Qin Shi Huang, the first emperor of unified China in 212 BCE.

The burning of books in antiquity was supposedly accompanied by the live burial of 460 Confucian scholars; modern historians dispute the claims, however.

"Who will they bury after they burned the books?" said one commenter on Chinese social media platform Weibo.

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