Thu, Nov 11, 2004 - Page 3 News List

Parties argue over history education

CURRICULUM A proposal by the education ministry to separate China's history from Taiwan's history in high-school courses sparked a row at the legislature


The legislative caucuses yesterday argued over a proposed Taiwan-centric curriculum for high schools, with the pan-blue camp accusing the pan-greens of promoting Taiwan independence and the pan-greens defending the education ministry's decision.

The Ministry of Education released a tentative curriculum for high-school history courses two days ago: Students would study "Taiwan History" in the first term of the first year, and the establishment of the ROC [Republic of China] would be included in "China History," to be taught in the second term of the first year.

The most important change, however, is that the curriculum would examine materials on the lack of a conclusion regarding Taiwan's international status. The textbooks will include the 1951 San Francisco Peace Treaty and the Cairo Declaration, and students will be allowed to consider Taiwan's "uncertain" status.

The Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) caucus yesterday said that the ministry's move was aimed to denationalize Taiwan, and push Taiwan into an uncertain status.

"Dr Sun Yat-sen (孫逸仙) is the founder of the ROC, and President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) is the ROC president. The president denying the founder indicates a problematic mentality," KMT caucus whip Huang Teh-fu (黃德福) said.

Huang said the ROC had reigned over China in the early 20 century, while from 1945 to the present, it only controlled Taiwan, Penghu, Kinmen and Matsu.

But looking historically, Huang said, the nearly 100-year history of the ROC should not be split up.

"If President Chen acknowledges the ROC history before 1949 as China's history, then he would be admitting that the ROC now is a part of China, and he would be the chief executive of the Taiwan Special Administrative Region," Huang said.

"Leave history to be history and politics to be politics, and don't try to meddle with the school curriculum or the status quo," Huang said.

The People First Party (PFP) caucus attacked the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) for promoting Taiwan independence.

"The DPP has been ruling the country with its independence ideology, and it is realizing independence via education and examinations," PFP Legislator Diane Lee (李慶安) said.

But the pan-green caucuses said the ministry was offering students the right context regarding Taiwan.

DPP caucus whip Tsai Huang-liang (蔡煌瑯) pointed out that the peace treaty and the declaration were two keys to Taiwan's sovereignty, but that textbooks in the past have offered subjective interpretations from the governing party, and the interpretations were not necessarily correct.

"The ministry has the right to clear up where Taiwan's sovereignty lies, and allow the next generation to learn Taiwan's history correctly," Tsai said.

Tsai said that while Taiwanese students knew everything about Chinese dynasties, they knew little about Taiwan's history.

The Taiwan Solidarity Union (TSU) also claimed, as usual, that since Taiwan was a sovereign nation, it was only logical that the home country's history in textbooks should be Taiwan history.

"Taiwan is a sovereign nation, and the other side [China] is also a sovereign nation. We should not call the other side the Chinese Communist Party (中共), we should call it China, and China's history should be considered as the history of a foreign country," TSU caucus whip Huang Chung-yuan (黃宗源) said.

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