Sun, Nov 12, 2017 - Page 6 News List

The Liberty Times Editorial: Seeing through colonizers’ schemes

The Ministry of Education’s curriculum review committee selected 15 articles to be included in senior-high school Chinese textbooks, including replacing “Preface to the General History of Taiwan (台灣通史)” with “Rafting in Lugang.”

Some have criticized the decision to remove the article as an attempt by the government to desinicize Taiwan, but that is not true. The problem with the article is not its “Chineseness,” but rather its colonial ideology.

The article claims that “Taiwan had no history before the Dutch came,” which suggests that attempts by outsiders to colonize Taiwan were not wrong and that developing areas previously inhabited by Aborigines and trying to subjugate them was necessary for the progress of civilization.

To criticize that approach is therefore mainly to reject the legitimacy of the colonization of Taiwan. If there was any degree of desinicization involved, it would have been because that was a necessary part of this process, a process that would also entail removing anything that suggests an ideology that is Koxinga (鄭成功), Spain, Netherlands, Qing or Japan-centric.

History reflects the reality of those who write it. Often, this includes prejudices commonly held in the past, but clearly problematic to people years later.

Lien Heng’s (連橫) General History of Taiwan was approved by the Japanese colonial government and was certainly not written from the point of view of Taiwanese. Its distorted views on Aborigines reflect a long-standing problem in Taiwan that has existed for many years under both foreign and local regimes.

The same criticism also extends to Taiwanese who hold the same views about Aborigines today. Those who sympathize with the misrepresented Aborigines do not need to overreact, and critics certainly do not need to blame any particular historian for the discrimination against Aborigines that has taken place in the past 300 to 400 years.

The lesson to be learned from this is that the nation’s history must be re-examined from a Taiwanese point of view and that Taiwanese must purge themselves of any outdated ideological prejudices. To create a better future, Taiwanese must continue to enlighten themselves and confront their own dark sides.

Another problem with the senior-high curriculum is that most history textbooks claim that Japan handed over Taiwan to the Republic of China (ROC) based on the Cairo Declaration.

Academics have questioned the assumption and expressed worries that the misunderstanding could be used by China as a “legal basis” for its “one China” principle. Therefore, the Tainan Bureau of Education has issued an article with the correct information about the handover to the city’s senior-high schools.

The Cairo Declaration and the Potsdam Declaration have, since the 1940s, been used as the legal basis for Taiwan’s handover to the ROC. The interpretation has been accepted as politically correct and written in textbooks.

As a result, many Taiwanese have been brainwashed into believing that to be true, when what really determined Taiwan’s fate at the end of World War II was the Treaty of San Francisco.

Unlike the declarations, which were unilateral statements from nations involved in the war, the Treaty of San Francisco was an agreement signed by Japan and the Allied nations.

According to the treaty, which took effect in 1952, Japan was to give up Taiwan, but it was not mentioned whether Taiwan was to become a part of the ROC or the People’s Republic of China (PRC).

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