President Ma Ying-jeou’s (馬英九) administration is attempting to “de-Taiwanize” high-school textbooks in a bid to manipulate students’ view of history, Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Legislator Cheng Li-chun (鄭麗君) said yesterday.
According to Cheng, during a public hearing held by the Ministry of Education’s National Academy for Educational Research in Taipei on Friday, Fo Guang University professor Hsieh Ta-ning (謝大寧), who is also a member of the curriculum outlines adjustment task force headed by Shih Hsin University professor Wang Hsiao-po (王曉波), said that the adjustments mainly focused on changing incorrect words in the curriculum, making information presented by the curriculum more complete, and making sure that the content was in accordance with the Republic of China (ROC) Constitution.
Hsieh said that, for example, the word “China” in history and geography textbooks are in fact short for “mainland China,” as stipulated by the Act Governing the Relations Between the Peoples of the Taiwan Area and the Mainland Area (兩岸人民關係條例)
Hsieh was adamant that the curriculum outlines had to contain the phrase: “All history after the ROC relocated to Taiwan need not be repeated, because it has already been written in the books on Taiwanese history.”
According to Hsieh, the phrase was important in that it represented that the ROC has relocated to Taiwan, “otherwise it would mean that the People’s Republic of China [PRC] has China and the ROC only has Taiwan after 1949,” Hsieh said.
He added that the inclusion of this phrase would put the textbook materials in accordance with the ROC Constitution.
Cheng lambasted the Ma government for trying to “de-Taiwanize” high-school textbooks to “brainwash” students.
She said that, for example, in a history textbook about Cheng Cheng-kung (鄭成功, also known as Koxinga), who defeated the Dutch forces at Fort Zeelandia (present-day Tainan) in 1661-1662, by changing “the Cheng family rule” to “the Cheng family rule under the Ming Dynasty” and focusing more on how the family dynasty was destroyed rather than founded, “the Ma administration is trying to stress that Taiwan under the Cheng family rule was being ruled by China.”
“The intent is to reinforce the concept that China has always been the ruler of Taiwan throughout the island’s history,” she added.
Cheng also said that in modern Taiwanese history, the word “retrocession” and phrase “relocation to Taiwan” were meant to further downplay Taiwan’s sovereignty, adding that the result would be the resurfacing of a “greater China” or “great unification” historical view.
Separately, former DPP chairman Shih Ming-te (施明德) yesterday said Wang, the convener of the curriculum adjustment task force, should on his own initiative shun conflicts of interest, given that his mother was one of the founding martyrs of the PRC.
Wang’s mother was killed by the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) in Taiwan for that very reason, and while his connection to and unique memories of a tragic past is to be respected, his suitability to head the task force was perhaps not the most objective or appropriate choice, Shih said.
Shih added that the presence on the task force of Hsieh, who doubles as secretary-general of the Chinese Integration Association, was also inappropriate, adding that the combination of Wang and Hsieh was perhaps too biased.
Commenting on Hsieh’s statements that the textbooks have to be in accordance with the Constitution and the Act Governing the Relations Between the Peoples of the Taiwan Area and the Mainland Area, Shih said that history should be based on facts and historical views, not on laws.
“Laws can be amended, but history cannot; if the act were to be abolished by the Legislative Yuan, would our history also crumble?” Shih said.
She added that it was ridiculous for history academics to make such claims.
Shih added that the motive behind the curriculum outlines adjustments is an alternate form of “united front” (統戰) tactics.