A Taipei City Government official said yesterday an agreement by the Ministry of Education about standardizing Mandarin Romanization was politically motivated and a deliberate attempt to challenge the system used in China and other Mandarin-speaking countries.
"The conclusion to adopt the Tongyong Pinyin system (通用拼音) was made for political reasons and demonstrates the new government's anxiety over unification with China.
"The fear is shown in purposely disregarding the system employed in China -- the Hanyu Pinyin system (漢語拼音)," said Lin Cheng-hsiou (林正修), director of the city government's Bureau of Civil Affairs. "Also, the decision flies in the face of the consensus reached last year to make use of the Hanyu system in Taiwan ? The new government owes the public a reasonable explanation. How come a formally agreed upon policy could be so drastically changed within a year?"
Lin's remarks were made at the end of a meeting by the Mandarin Promotion Council (MPC), under the Ministry of Education, that decided the Tongyong system would be the standardized Mandarin Romanization system in Taiwan.
In addition to officials from the civil affairs bureau, other attendees at the meeting included representatives from the the railways and highways department of the Ministry of Transportation and Communications, the Overseas Chinese Affairs Commission, and various linguistics scholars.
Director of the Mandarin Promotion Council, Tsao Feng-fu (
Tsao said even if the Tongyong system was made official it would not affect children who are learning with the current phonetic system. But, from next year, elementary school students will have to learn two systems simultaneously.
He said that in the past, people in Taiwan did not use any Romanization system -- implying the Hanyu system did not have an advantage in Taiwan. "It is time for us to choose a favorable Romanization system and make it standard in our country," he said.
Chiang Wen-yu (
Tsao said now that a choice had been made, attention should switch to how the system would be introduced. He said he would be looking for help from the administration and hoped the Romanized spelling of street signs would be standardized.
Inconsistencies in the Romanization system used in Taiwan has long been a contentious issue. Foreign visitors have often complained that discrepancies in street signs have made it hard to get around in the country.
Hanyu Pinyin was invented in China and accepted by the UN in 1986 as a standardized Mandarin Romanization system, whereas the Tongyong Pinyin system was designed by Yu Po-chuan (
The main difference between the two systems is that the Tongyong system uses a lot of local words and dialects.
This, say some experts, will cause confusion for foreigners.
Citing Wanhua (
Talung street in Taipei City is, under the new system, Paronpon street, a name acquired during the Dutch colonization period in the 17th century.
"How can you expect a foreigner to know that Wanhua was previously called Menjia, and Talung street is Paronpon?" said Lin Cheng-hsiou.
EIGHT-YEAR WINDOW: Avril Haines said that Beijing is closely watching the Russian invasion of Ukraine, although Moscow’s actions have not sped up Beijing’s timeline The threat posed by China to Taiwan until 2030 is “critical,” US Director of National Intelligence Avril Haines said on Tuesday while testifying on worldwide threats at a hearing of the US Senate Committee on Armed Services. “I think it’s fair to say that it’s critical, or acute,” Haines said when asked by US Senator Josh Hawley if she viewed the threat facing Taiwan to be acute from now until 2030. “It’s our view that they [China] are working hard to effectively put themselves into a position in which their military is capable of taking Taiwan over our intervention,” she said, without
NO CONSENSUS YET: Local governments and the CECC have agreed to change the ‘3+4’ self-isolation policy, but are still mulling what to replace it with The Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) and local governments have agreed to ease restrictions on close contacts of COVID-19 cases, although the details are still being discussed, the center said yesterday. The discussions follow Premier Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌) on Saturday approving a proposal to shorten the “3+4” policy — three days of home isolation followed by four days of self-disease prevention — for close contacts who have received booster doses. “We did not reach a consensus on how to revise the current restrictions, but we all agreed that the administrative burden must be reduced and the intensity of restrictions must be eased,
OPPOSING CHINESE ‘HOSTILITY’: The bill orders the state secretary to create a plan to regain observer status for Taiwan, saying Taipei is a model contributor to world health US President Joe Biden on Friday signed a bill into law to help Taiwan regain observer status at the World Health Assembly (WHA), demonstrating Washington’s support for Taiwan’s international participation. Friday was the deadline for Biden to sign the bill (S.812), which directs “the Secretary of State to develop a strategy to regain observer status for Taiwan in the World Health Organization (WHO), and for other purposes.” The 75th WHA, the decisionmaking body of the WHO, is scheduled to meet in Geneva, Switzerland, from Sunday next week to May 28. The bill, introduced by US Senator Bob Menendez, chairman of the US Senate
‘DAMOCLES SWORD’: An Italian missionary said the arrest of cardinal Zen is a blow for the church in Hong Kong, China and the world, signaling great danger ahead China yesterday defended the arrest of a 90-year-old Catholic cardinal under Hong Kong’s National Security Law, a move that triggered international outrage and deepened concerns over Beijing’s crackdown on freedoms in the territory. Retired cardinal Joseph Zen (陳日君), one of the most senior Catholic clerics in Asia, was among a group of veteran democracy advocates arrested on Wednesday for “colluding with foreign forces.” Pop singer Denise Ho (何韻詩), veteran barrister Margaret Ng (吳靄儀) and cultural studies academic Hui Po-keung (許寶強) were also arrested, the latter as he attempted to fly to Europe to take up an academic post. Cyd Ho (何秀蘭), a democracy