Friday, February 16, 2007

Teaching Taiwan

Teaching Taiwan

"A FEW YEARS AGO, statues of Sun Yat Sen began disappearing from Taiwan's public parks. In 2004, the Taiwanese government announced it would remove questions about Mainland Chinese geography from its general knowledge exam for civil servants. And last fall, the government renamed the country's largest international airport. Once named for the Kuomintang leader Chiang Kai Shek, it is now simply called Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport, after the county where is it is located.

The ruling Democratic Progressive Party's latest initiative has ruffled more feathers of officials on the Mainland and in the KMT opposition bloc: Revised high school history textbooks will for the first time devote an entire volume to "Taiwanese" history. The People's Republic of China, previously referred to in classrooms as "our country," "this country," or "the mainland," will be identified as "China," and its history will be condensed from two or three volumes down to one.

The changes don't stop there. The island nation's 50 years of Japanese rule is no longer an "occupation," but an "administrative period." The 1911 Wuhan Uprising that brought an end to imperial rule in China will now be called a "Qi Shi" or riot, which carries a less righteous connotation than the old term, "Qi Yi," or revolution.

The new textbooks, which will reach classrooms in March, even go so far as to address the taboo subject of Taiwanese independence. One version reads: "Taiwan's future remains a big question mark. Will Taiwan independence bring war? How to protect Taiwan from being swallowed?""

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