Fri, Sep 02, 2011 - Page 1 News List

Critics question school ‘brain-washing’ on Diaoyutais

By Tseng Wei-chen, Chen Hui-ping and Lin Hsiao-yun  /  Staff Reporters

The Ministry of Education (MOE) has caused a stir with its recent directive that elementary and junior high schools teach that the disputed Diaoyutai Islands (釣魚台) “have been a part of China since ancient times,” and consequently belong to the Republic of China (ROC).

Critics called it “brain-washing under the guise of education.”

Huang Chi-teng (黃子騰), head of the ministry’s Department of Elementary Education, said the directive was sent after an interministerial meeting convened by the National Security Council (NSC), in which it was decided that the ministry would give schools a paper for use as reference in teaching “the relations between the Diaoyutai Islands and Taiwan.”

The paper, which includes comments such as “Japan stole the Diaoyutai Islands,” places China and Taiwan on the same side opposing Japan, using the claim that “the Diaoyutai Islands have belonged to China in the past” to argue that sovereignty over the Diaoyutais belongs to the ROC.

Huang said the paper was prepared by the council and that he had not looked closely at the content. He said the council could legally require that the ministry participate in the process, as the decision was reached during an interministerial meeting.

The council wrote the paper in May. In June, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs held a seminar on “the proper use of data concerning our claims on the Diaoyutai Islands” and sent a record of the meeting to all concerned government agencies.

Yang Kuo-tung (楊國棟), director-general of the ministry’s Department of Treaty and Legal Affairs, said the meeting was held primarily to discuss how to promote awareness of the Diaoyutai issue among elementary and junior-high school students.

The issue concerns whether “our national territory is intact,” Yang said, adding that it was a matter that concerns the public and one that it must face.

The Ministry of Education issued a decree on July 18 directing all elementary and junior-high schools to incorporate the NSC paper and teach students that the Daioyutai Islands has, since ancient times, been a part of China. It also directed schools to hold events to promote awareness of the issue and report their progress to the council.

Commenting on the matter, National Teachers’ Union secretary-general Wu Chung-tai (吳忠泰) said that any government paper relating to course material or course scheduling should first be submitted to the course syllabus committee and educational organizations should be invited to take part in negotiations and discussions.

The NSC should not have handled the matter in a top-down manner, giving the information to the education ministry and telling it to incorporate it into the curriculum, Wu said.

He said that as sovereignty over the Diaoyutais remains a sensitive issue — both domestically and internationally — the timing of the government’s announcement of such a policy gives educational organizations reason to doubt the motives of President Ma Ying-jeou’s (馬英九) administration.

There are varied views in the nation concerning the Diaoyutai issue, National Alliance of Parents Organization head Gordon Hsieh (謝國清) said, adding that education should not become a tool for government propaganda.

Chiang Huang-chih (姜皇池), a professor of international law at National Taiwan University’s College of Law, also expressed doubts about the decision, saying the NSC paper presents a great risk in terms of international law, because it places Taiwan’s claims under the scope of it being a part of China.

Comments will be moderated. Keep comments relevant to the article. Remarks containing abusive and obscene language, personal attacks of any kind or promotion will be removed and the user banned. Final decision will be at the discretion of the Taipei Times.

TOP top