Jun 10, 2009

Taiwan: President Initiates Simplified Character-set

Active ImagePresident Ma Ying-jeou suggested that Taiwan should adopt the same simplified character set as used for writing in China. 

Below is an article published by TAIPEI (AFP):

Taiwan president suggests using simplified Chinese characters
President Ma Ying-jeou on Tuesday suggested that Taiwan adopt the simplified character set used in writing in China, in yet another indication of the island's moving closer to its former arch-rival.

"We hope the two sides can reach a consensus on (learning to) read standard characters while writing in the simplified ones," Ma told a visiting delegation of US-based Taiwanese community leaders.

"It is also our hope that the standard characters can be listed as World Heritage by the United Nations one day," he said in a statement.

Relations with China have improved dramatically since Ma's Beijing-friendly government was inaugurated in May 2008, vowing to promote reconciliation and trade ties.

But critics accuse Ma of conceding too much in his bid to appease Beijing.

"Ma is seeing China as his master. He is even trying to change our writing habits to please China, which is absolutely unnecessary," said Cheng Wen-tsang, spokesman for the pro-independence Democratic Progressive Party (DPP.)

Taiwan and China split in 1949 after a civil war but Beijing still sees the island as part of its territory awaiting reunification, by force if necessary.

In the 1950s, Beijing rewrote its national lexicon, creating a system of simplified Chinese characters to replace traditional ones which it deemed too complicated.

In response Taiwan's government labelled its system -- also used in Hong Kong and Macau -- as "standard" characters and banned books published in simplified Chinese until 2003.

Despite lingering political tensions, recent years have seen a surge in the popularity of mainland Chinese books on the island, following on from the success of television dramas and pop music.