Jul 24, 2007

Taiwan: Textbooks to Drop References to China

A Taiwanese official announced last Sunday [22 July 2007] that textbooks would be amended to drop some 5,000 references to China.

A Taiwanese official announced last Sunday [22 July 2007] that textbooks would be amended to drop some 5,000 references to China.

Below are extracts from an article published by the International Herald Tribune:

Taiwan plans to revise school textbooks to drop references that describe mainland Chinese historical figures, places and artifacts as "national," the Education Ministry has announced.

The announcement is the latest in a series of moves by the island in the past few months to assert its sovereignty. China claims Taiwan as its own and has repeatedly threatened to attack should the island formalize its de facto independence. Beijing opposes anything that appears to give Taiwan the trappings of sovereignty.

A ministry official, Pan Wen-chung, said Sunday [22 July 2007] that the authorities were considering dropping about 5,000 "inappropriate" references in Taiwanese textbooks to help "clear up confusion" about the island's identity.


The textbook changes are in line with the stance of President Chen Shui-bian's governing Democratic Progressive Party, which […] opposes identification with China, from which the island split amid civil war in 1949.

The Liberty Times newspaper, which generally backs Chen's party, praised the initiative, saying it fits with Taiwan's status as an independent state.


The move could also provoke a harsh reaction in China, which has long been sensitive to its neighbors' making changes to history textbooks. Protests erupted two years ago after Japan approved a textbook that critics say whitewashes its wartime atrocities.

Xu Baodong, the director of the Institute of Taiwan Affairs at China Union University in Beijing, called the textbook move "malicious" and said the Chinese government would monitor the situation. "The DPP wants to create an atmosphere for Taiwan independence and to let Taiwanese youth forget that they are Chinese through revising the textbooks," he said.

Taiwan's textbooks have traditionally given heavy weight to China's 5,000 years of history and works of ancient Chinese poets and philosophers. The current textbooks date from the early 1950s, after Chiang Kai-shek and his Nationalist forces fled the Communist takeover of the mainland.

Chen […] has substituted "Taiwan" for "China" at the post office and two large government-owned companies, and his government has said it would proceed with a referendum on rejoining the United Nations under its own name, despite strong objections from China and the United States.