The Ministry of Education recently suggested that the name Taiwan should be written exclusively in traditional Chinese characters (臺灣) instead of the simplified form (台灣). This suggestion has been criticized as “too much leisure after a meal” to use a Taiwanese metaphor. It is as meaningless as suggesting that we write “the United States of America” instead of “the USA” or “the US.” The simplified form for Taiwan has been used for decades or even centuries — well before China adopted simplified Chinese characters, if that is what concerns the ministry.
It would be more meaningful if the ministry came out and suggested not writing or calling Taiwan “Chinese Taipei” or “Taiwan, China.” In fact, Taiwan is not the Republic of China or the ROC, otherwise the term “the ROC on Taiwan” would be nonsensical. Taiwan has a much longer history than the ROC.
There are many other meaningful things on which the ministry could focus, such as educating students more about the true history and geography of Taiwan; treating Taiwanese graduate students as the equals of Chinese graduate students in granting scholarships; allowing college students the freedom of expression in their Internet communications; not changing transliterated signs from Tongyong pinyin, developed by the ministry itself, to Hanyu pinyin; and never adopting simplified Chinese characters.
Stretching a point too far
In an attempt to draw comparisons with the Economic Cooperation Framework Agreement (ECFA), Huang Tien-lin (黃天麟) misrepresents the EU, perpetuating common misconceptions that exist more generally in Taiwan (“The EU is an example of effects of integration,” Dec. 12, page 8).
The EU may have been established in name in 1993 — but that rather ignores the previous 35 years of economic integration that did not fundamentally change the process of integration, but rather enhanced it.
Contrary to his claim, there were no “early harvest lists” as such — the terminology does not exist in an EU context and deliberately confuses the EU with the ECFA between China and Taiwan to make a simplistic political point.
Germany did not become “a hub” because of the market economy post-1993, as implied. It was a major European economy in the 19th and early 20th centuries, and became so again in the immediate postwar period — ironically, largely through economic planning and not through free market economics. Moreover, an understanding of European economics would perhaps reveal more than one “hub” existing across several countries.
The most famous one that’s been suggested — the “Blue Banana” — extended from northern Italy through parts of France and Germany, the Netherlands, Belgium and southern and central UK. In this respect, economic integration arguably allows for the further development of such cross-border hubs.
The EU has not “recently admitted” to the existence of “two-track” development in the eurozone. It was evident as far back as the early 1970s when the European Economic and Monetary Union was first discussed. There were at the time, and would continue to be, regional differences. Indeed, special funds were established to try and mitigate these affects, funds that it could be argued Greece and Ireland in particular became too reliant on in the 1990s.
In addition, it was clear as long as 10 years ago that (for example) Ireland’s economy was experiencing an unsustainable boom — and that Germany’s economy was sluggish. Huang is, moreover, misinformed if he believes EU member states are of a similar size (they are most certainly not) and that the territorial size of a nation-state alone has some sort of bearing on its economy, as he appears to imply.