New law in China gives new meaning to 'required reading'

A boy reads a book at the Hong Kong Book Fair on July 17, 2013.

Last month, China correspondent Rob Schmitz reported on a new Chinese law mandating that adults go home "often" to visit their parents. It's a way to get those who have left for the cities for work to come home and get their spiritual needs filled.

But if you think that law is overreaching, there may be another one on the way. The Wall Street Journal reports that Chinese lawmakers are now considering a law to encourage more people to read little-read books. A national public reading survey revealed that Chinese people between the ages of 18 and 70 read 6.7 books on average in 2012. That's compared to 15 books read on average last year by Americans.

The Journal says that although China has long been known for valuing education and publishes hundreds of thousands of books a year, the pressure of scoring high on exams, combined with government censorship, is turning people off. “It’s not that Chinese don’t like to read,” one publisher said. “It’s that Chinese don’t like to read what the government publishes.”

What do you think? Would the U.S. benefit if we had legislation requiring reading?

About the author

Chau Tu is the former assistant web producer for Marketplace.

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