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.
The council’s proposition would relegate both Taiwan and the Diaoyutai Islands to being parts of China, Chiang said.
Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Legislator Kuan Bi-ling (管碧玲) accused the Ministry of Education of employing Martial Law-era tactics by putting education under political control, with the NSC bypassing normal educational channels to teach students its own pre-customized ideologies.
Taiwan Solidarity Union Chairman Huang Kun-huei (黃昆輝) accused the council of being the force behind a government though-control scheme and propaganda machine.
“Whether the Diaoyutais are the territory of Taiwan, China or Japan is a question for historians to solve. The security council cannot decide the final outcome on its own,” Huang said.
Huang urged the Ma administration to respect the independence of the education system and to stop interfering with the school curriculum.
DPP Legislator Tsai Huang-liang (蔡煌瑯) said both the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the council had gotten their priorities wrong.
Instead of trying to expand the nation’s international relations, they were conducting “united front” (統戰) propaganda aimed at Taiwanese elementary and junior-high school children, Tsai said.
Additional reporting by Chris Wang and Hu Ching-hui
Translated by Jake Chung, Staff Writer
SCHEDULE: The delegation is due to meet with President Tsai Ing-wen this morning and witness the signing of an MOU on bilateral health cooperation in the afternoon US Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) Alex Azar yesterday arrived in Taipei aboard a US government plane at the head of a delegation that is the highest-level visit by a US official since Washington switched diplomatic recognition to China in 1979. Azar’s flight landed at Taipei International Airport (Songshan airport) at 4:48pm, nearly one hour earlier than scheduled, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said. The apron where it landed is reserved for military aircraft, the Songshan Air Force Base Command said. The members of Azar’s delegation included HHS Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response Robert Kadlec, HHS Chief of Staff Brian
CHINESE FIGHTERS: Beijing marked the US Cabinet member’s visit by briefly sending two warplanes across the median line of the Taiwan Strait yesterday morning President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) yesterday met with US Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar in the highest-level official meeting between the two nations since 1979. “It is a true honor to be here to convey a message of strong support and friendship from [US] President [Donald] Trump to Taiwan,” Azar said during the open portion of his courtesy call to the Presidential Office, which was streamed live online before Tsai and Azar held a closed-door meeting. “Taiwan’s response to COVID-19 has been among the most successful in the world, and that is a tribute to the open, transparent,
PARTNERSHIP AND LEARNING: A Princeton University health policy researcher said that the nation would be a ‘treasure trove’ of information for the US health chief US Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar on Friday said he wants to learn about Taiwan’s “incredibly effective” response to COVID-19, even though the nation did things that the US has fumbled, such as having a unified strategy and citizens willing to wear masks. Azar leads a US delegation arriving today for a three-day visit to Taiwan. They are to meet with President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) and health system leaders, and Azar is to give a speech to public health graduates. “The message of this trip is about Taiwan,” Azar said in an interview, deflecting a question about China.
Taiwanese-independence advocates yesterday accused former president Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) of breaking national security laws and called on the judiciary to investigate after his statement that “China will wage a battle, which will be quick and will be the last battle for Taiwan.” Ma showed his true colors “as a mouthpiece of the Chinese Communist Party” in his speech on Monday when he said the “first battle will be the last,” Taiwan Republic Office (台灣國辦公室) director Chilly Chen (陳峻涵) said. “Ma is threatening Taiwanese by claiming that Beijing will launch a quick invasion of Taiwan, but that the US military will have no