Wed, Nov 24, 2004 - Page 8 News List

History should be based on facts

By Chiu Hei-yuan瞿海源

On Nov. 12, the birthday of "founding father" Sun Yat-sen (孫中山), some people closely attached to the pan-blue camp, after paying their respects at the Sun Yat-sen Memorial Hall, laid portraits of Minister of Education Tu Cheng-sheng (杜正勝) and Exam-ination Yuan member Lin Yu-ti (林玉体) on the ground and pelted them with eggs.

On the same day, a bomb was placed near the Ministry of Education, and an old soldier cut his throat in protest over the recent dispute about ending Sun's status as "founding father."

Lin and Tu's irresponsibly voiced proposals to remove questions about China's history and geography from the entry-level national civil service examinations and to modify senior high-school history materials to separate the history of Taiwan from that of China have sparked a conflagration in the pan-blue camp and made high-ranking pan-green officials anxious.

In political reality, Taiwan and China are two hostile powers, but unlike most enemies, this is because China regards Taiwan as part of its territory, a status Tai-wan rejects. In this situation, talking about sovereignty or cultural independence in Taiwan is inevitable, especially as the government elected by its people has sufficient power to govern itself, whereas China has no jurisdiction over Taiwan at all.

China's belief that talk in Taiwan of sovereignty and cultural independence is a slippery slope to independence is used as its rationale to criticize and threaten Taiwan.

That Taiwan is a sovereign and independent state is a fact, and that its culture has its developmental uniqueness is also widely recognized. But Taiwan has been profoundly influenced by Chinese culture. Pro-independence people, and indeed all Taiwanese, read Chinese, speak Chinese, eat Chinese food and may also take Chinese traditional medicine.

Cultural and political independence should be dealt with separately, but given an inability to demand political indepen-dence, some people instead make a big fuss over cultural independence. Superficially, this might seem to be aiding Taiwan independence, but in reality, it makes the whole situation worse.

If you say that the nation's "founding father" is a foreigner, would you also regard Minister of Justice Chen Ding-nan, (陳定南) dressing up as Justice Pao (a judge in ancient China famed for his wisdom and just judgements) in an anti-vote buying event as representing an enemy country?

And what about deities such as Matzu, Kuankung (the god of war) and even the Jade Emperor himself? Are they from the enemy camp as well?

As for the issue of the civil service exams, since these are national tests, there certainly is a question over the proportion of Chinese and Taiwanese history and geography included, for this relates directly to a country's sovereignty and independence. Since Taiwan is not capable of ruling China, Chinese history and geography should not be associated with our nation.

There was a compromise proposal to remove history and geography from the examination, but some pro-independence Examination Yuan members still insist on a Taiwan nation and argue that therefore national history and geography examinations should not be abolished.

Every country's educational system should give its students knowledge of their country, and textbooks should reinforce national consciousness. But Taiwan independence is still not yet a fact, and there are still major obstacles to independence.

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