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Thu, Feb 10, 2000 - Page 2 News List

Taiwan's history updated to digital format

GOING DUTCH Based on a book written in the 1920s by a renowned Taiwanese historian, a new VCD on the Dutch colonial period is the result of 18 months of work

By Monique Chu  /  STAFF REPORTER

The Lien Chen-tung Foundation released a VCD about Taiwan's history during the Dutch occupation in the 17th century called "Close to You." At the press conference, a group of young people put on an action-packed skit to show their support.

PHOTO: CHIANG YING-YING, TAIPEI TIMES

A VCD account of Taiwan during the Dutch colonial period of the 17th century was released yesterday as part of a private foundation's ambitious plan to explain the island's history through images -- instead of text -- in the hopes of kindling the curiosity of the younger generation.

The project is based on the book The General History of Taiwan (台灣通史) which was written in the 1920s by Lien Heng (連橫), a renowned historian and the grandfather of Vice President Lien Chan (連戰).

The 48-minute long VCD was put together by a group of historians and specialists funded by the Lien Chentung Foundation (連震東先生文教基金會), which spent over 18 months on the project, foundation staffers said.

Arlene Hui-hsin Lien (連惠心), the foundation's executive who also is the great-granddaughter of the author and Lien Chan's daughter , said the digital format was chosen because "The General History of Taiwan is not that accessible to [modern] readers because it was written in classical Chinese. So we decided to use images to represent the content of the book."

Taiwan was first colonized by Dutch forces who landed on the island in 1622, followed by the Spanish in 1626. In 1642 the Spanish settlements succumbed to Dutch forces and Taiwan was then ruled by the Dutch East India Company until the 1660s.

"We hope that this method of presenting history will allow people to transgress the barriers of space and time to know more about Taiwan's history," Lien said at a news conference yesterday.

People receiving free copies of the VCD at yesterday's launch said although the timing was "politically sensitive" given Lien Chan's presidential candidacy, they preferred to concentrate on how history was interpreted in the VCD.

"Maybe some people will associate the occasion with the presidential election campaign, but I don't care about it," Wang Po-ling (汪柏伶), a university student.

"I see the VCD as a reference, one of the many sources through which I can gain knowledge about Taiwan's history," he added.

While refusing to detail costs, Lien told the Taipei Times that a lack of sufficient historical materials in Taiwan had jeopardized the project, forcing the team to look abroad.

"Taiwan has not done a good enough job in conserving historical materials. So we had to use old maps and dramas to represent history ... We also went to Europe to search for materials," she said.

Participants at the news conference had high expectations of the overall project.

"I am looking forward to seeing the completion of other VCDs on Taiwan's history," said Huang Teh-fu (黃德福), a political analyst at National Chengchi University.

Lien said the team would start work at the end of this year on the period of immigration in the Ching Dynasty (1644-1911).

The next two projects will focus on Taiwan under Japanese colonial rule (1895-1945) and under KMT rule, she said.

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