A history textbook to be used in senior-high schools next semester has sparked controversy among teachers and the public, who say its content constitutes “brainwashing,” as it is written with a “China-oriented perspective of history.”
Minister of Education Chiang Wei-ling (蔣偉寧) responded that each textbook’s “expression” should be respected.
The history textbook, published by Shi Ji Cultural Co (史記文化), says that movements advocating independence “are a negation of the Republic of China and its Constitution” that would plunge society into a “deranged state about national identity” and that they are thereby “bad for Taiwan’s development.”
Photo: Wang Min-wei, Taipei Times
The controversial content was first brought to light by a netizen who uploaded photographs taken from the textbook on Monday night and said that a high-school history teacher said that “the school’s top administrative level” had received the textbook sample from “the university end” and told history teachers to start using the textbook starting next semester.
The netizen, who is also a schoolteacher, further revealed on PTT — the nation’s largest online bulletin board — that the person who gave the textbook to school officials “is an evaluation committee member responsible for assessing the school’s performance.”
In the legislature in Taipei yesterday, Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Legislator Kuan Bi-ling (管碧玲) said during a question-and-answer session that the textbook is written from a “extremely pro-China, Japan-hating, anti-independence, DPP-vilifying and KMT-eulogizing” perspective.
Kuan showed slides of photographs taken from the textbook, which say that problems with Taiwan’s ethnic relations “partially originate from Taiwan’s frequent elections, in which certain political parties constantly incite disharmony among different ethnic groups that were just beginning to meld, causing polarization and breeding antagonism between the groups.”
Kuan also said that in the chapter on cross-strait relations, the textbook praises the government’s policy of a “diplomatic truce” with China, saying that it has greatly improved cross-strait relations, as now the two sides no longer compete for diplomatic allies.
Kuan said that not only does that overlook the fact that China is still trying to impede Taiwan’s activities in the international community by, for example, requiring it to be described as part of China in the WHO, but “the textbook also ends the chapter with statements intimidating readers by branding the idea of a state-to-state relationship as inciting war.”
She added that the publisher reportedly plans to call on teachers to support using the textbook and “if a certain share is reached, it would offer China tour junkets.”
Chiang said before the question-and-answer session yesterday that the textbook “has been evaluated and approved through an appropriate procedure” and that he would respect the textbook’s content if it has been approved.
Chiang said he hopes that teachers “help students develop critical thinking while teaching” and that he would leave it to teachers’ and students’ judgement when they encounter “certain types of speech.”
Premier Jiang Yi-huah (江宜樺) responded to Kuan’s questions by saying that the Executive Yuan respects schools’ autonomy and does not interfere with their choice of textbooks, which Kuan described as shirking political responsibility.
According to a report in the Chinese-language Liberty Times (the Taipei Times’ sister paper) in July last year, when the controversy over history textbooks had already arisen, Shi-Ji and two other publishers — Bei-Yi Cultural Co and Ke-Yi Cultural Co — were owned by pro-unification Chinese Integration Association chief executive officer Cheng Chih-shen (鄭旗生). Association chairman Chang Ya-chung (張亞中) served as a consultant to the companies.
Yesterday, the DPP said the controversial textbook was biased and not written in accordance with democratic principles.
While Chiang said it would be up to the schools to choose which textbook to use, DPP spokesperson Lin Chun-hsien (林俊憲) told a news conference that the ministry’s response was like “permitting adulterated food to remain on the shelves in the name of consumer choice.”
The DPP demanded that the ministry first rescind its approval of the textbooks — Volume 1 and 2 of the high-school history textbook published by Shi Ji — and second ask the publishers to rewrite the content.
The party added that the ministry should also investigate the review process.
“If the education ministry refuses to do so, DPP legislators will launch counteractions in the legislature,” Lin said.
Lin said that Taiwan’s sovereignty is a matter of consensus among the public and that the textbooks should not praise the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) yet smear the opposition.
“These textbooks were written under the guidelines established in 2011. We cannot help but worry about what textbooks written under the curriculum guidelines adjusted this year will be like. The potential for ‘brainwashing’ will be a serious concern,” he said.
Additional reporting by Chris Wang
SAFETY RISK: The government is working to categorize countries based on their COVID-19 cases and prevention efforts, which would determine quarantine periods The government plans to rank countries based on their COVID-19 risks to determine how to treat tourists and other travelers from those nations once Taiwan reopens its borders, but it is still working out the categories, a top health official told lawmakers yesterday. “We would divide countries around the world into several categories. One category would comprise those countries with very few confirmed COVID-19 cases, such as New Zealand and Palau. Travelers from the countries in this category would only need to practice self-health management,” Centers for Disease Control Deputy Director-General Chuang Jen-hsiang (莊人祥) told a Legislative Yuan seminar hosted by
China would attack Taiwan if there is no other way of stopping it from becoming independent, Chinese General Li Zuocheng (李作成) said yesterday. Speaking at Beijing’s Great Hall of the People on the 15th anniversary of China’s “Anti-Secession” Law, Li, who is chief of the Joint Staff Department of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army Central Military Commission, left the door open to using force. The 2005 law is China’s legislative basis for military action against Taiwan. “If the possibility for peaceful reunification is lost, the people’s armed forces will, with the whole nation, including the people of Taiwan, take all necessary steps to
SECURITY CONCERNS: The Telecom Technology Center ran black-box tests for the Executive Yuan on devices and software from Chinese, US and South Korean firms Network devices from several Chinese manufacturers are insecure and allow personal information to be leaked, testing commissioned by the Executive Yuan has shown. A variety of devices and software, including apps, from Chinese, US and South Korean manufacturers that are used by government agencies at the central and local level were subjected to black-box testing — in which the functionality of an application is examined without knowing about its internal structure, an information-security official said yesterday on condition of anonymity. The Telecom Technology Center conducted the tests, which simulated cyberattacks, to determine their resilience to the attacks, the official said. The center
RELATIONSHIP ‘TERMINATED’: US Speaker Nancy Pelosi said that the president’s action was ‘an act of extraordinary senselessness,’ a tone Chinese media echoed US President Donald Trump on Friday announced that Washington would withdraw funding from the WHO, end Hong Kong’s special trade status and suspend visas of Chinese graduate students suspected of conducting research on behalf of their government. Trump said in a White House announcement that Chinese officials “ignored” their reporting obligations to the WHO and pressured the organization to mislead the public about the outbreak. “We have detailed the reforms that it must make and engaged with them directly, but they have refused to act,” he said. “Because they have failed to make the requested and greatly needed reforms, we will be