Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) legislators yesterday accused President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) of trying to “de-Taiwanize” high school textbooks to “brainwash” students.
A textbook review committee is making final reviews of various textbook editions for the next school year that starts in September to make sure they follow a curriculum approved in 2009.
While the job is usually more or less routine, the Ministry of Education made some changes at the end of last month and early this month, such as asking the review committee to consider suggestions by an anonymous member of the public to adjust the Taiwan-oriented perspective in history books to make it more China-oriented, and switching some terms.
In addition, the ministry appointed National Taiwan University’s political science professor Chang Yia-chung (張亞中) — who is known for his strong pro-unification tendencies — as a new committee member.
“What the government is trying to do to high school history textbooks is really worrisome and confusing,” DPP Legislator Tsai Chi-chang (蔡其昌) told a press conference at the legislature. “It seems the ministry is trying to implant political ideas into history lessons by not only changing the perspective, but also dropping neutral terms.”
For instance, the current textbook divides Taiwan’s history into periods of “under Qing rule” or “under Japanese rule.” However, following the proposal, the ministry asked committee members to change the term “under Japanese rule” to “under Japanese colonial rule” to “hold on to the nationalistic view,” a ministry document delivered to committee members said.
The document also said that the People’s Republic of China should no longer be mentioned in textbooks as “China,” but rather should be referred to as the “Chinese Communist Party regime” or “mainland China.”
Following the “proposal by the public” referred by the ministry, members made the recommendation that current terms used in history textbooks, such as “Qing-French War” (清法戰爭) and “Qing-Japanese War” (清日戰爭), be changed to “Sino-French War” (中法戰爭) and “Sino-Japanese War” (中日戰爭).
It also says that when mentioning former president Lee Teng-hui’s (李登輝) definition of cross-strait relations as a “special state-to-state relationship” and former president Chen Shui-bian’s (陳水扁) definition that “there is one country on each side of Taiwan Strait,” Ma’s “one China with each having its own interpretation” definition should also be mentioned.
“It is very suspicious that the ministry is still asking the review committee to consider making changes at this time, since, normally, the final review of textbooks to be used in a semester that starts in September would have been done by May at the latest,” DPP Legislator Cheng Li-chun (鄭麗君) said. “It’s equally suspicious that Chang — a political science professor with no background in history — was suddenly appointed as committee member.”
Cheng said textbook review committee members are usually appointed at the beginning of theyear and serve through the end of the year.
Citing an article Chang published in the magazine China Reivew (中國評論) in April, Cheng said Chang was seeking to create a “Chinese-oriented [historical] perspective” so that Taiwanese would adopt a Chinese identity.
Chang also mentioned that one pro-unification committee member, Wang Hsiao-po (王曉波), “has joined the team with a mission assigned by President Ma.”