President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) yesterday told the Tourism Bureau to remove the simplified Chinese version from its Web site, saying all government agencies should use traditional Chinese characters in official documents and on the Internet.
The president’s instructions came in the wake of a dispute over the use of simplified characters to cater to an expected influx of Chinese free independent travelers (FITs).
The Tourism Bureau had provided simplified Chinese among other languages on its Web site. The simplified Chinese version was removed yesterday morning.
“To maintain our role as the pioneer in Chinese culture, all government bodies should use traditional Chinese in official documents and on their Web sites, so that people around the world can learn about the beauty of traditional characters,” Presidential Office spokesman Fan Chiang Tai-chi (范姜泰基) quoted Ma as saying.
On Tuesday, the Executive Yuan urged retailers and other businesses to refrain from replacing traditional characters with simplified characters in product descriptions or on menus to cater to FITs.
Opening Taiwan to FITs is the latest move by Taiwan and China to enhance cross-strait exchanges. On Sunday, Chinese National Tourism Administration Chairman Shao Qiwei (邵琪偉) announced that the program would start on June 28 and would initially be open to residents of Beijing, Shanghai and Xiamen.
China’s unilateral announcement of an official launch date caught Taiwan by surprise. On Monday, Mainland Affairs Council Deputy Minister Liu Te-shun (劉德勳) said work still needed to be done, adding that if everything proceeded smoothly, FITs would be able to visit before June 28.
Fan Chiang yesterday repeated the Executive Yuan’s call for businesses to stick to traditional characters, saying Taiwan has opened its doors to Chinese tourists for three years and most have no trouble reading traditional characters.
“Chinese tourists come to Taiwan to experience the different culture and traditions here, and we should not take this experience away from them,” Fan Chiang said.