Premier Wu Den-yih (吳敦義) yesterday said he considered it unnecessary to insist that people write the first of the two Chinese characters for “Taiwan” in full traditional form (臺), as the simplified form (台) requires fewer strokes and is used by more people.
Some people prefer the character written in traditional form, while others favor writing it using the simplified form, Wu said, adding that he “respected people’s right to choose.”
“As long as people who write the character do so properly and those who read it know what it is, each form is fine. [Writing using the variant character] has been established by [customary] usage,” Wu said.
Wu made the remarks while commenting on a recent policy by the Ministry of Education to replace the simplified form of the character printed in the ministry’s literature and textbooks with the traditional form, a goal the ministry said it hoped to accomplish by the end of next year.
The ministry said students who wrote the character using the simplified form in national exams or entrance exams would not have grades deducted.
“Writing the character in traditional form is not compulsory, even in school exams,” said Chen Hsueh-yu (陳雪玉), executive secretary of at the ministry’s National Languages Committee. “What we seek to accomplish, however, is to encourage institutions and schools under the ministry to use the character written in its traditional form.”
After the ministry studied the origin of the character, it decided that the tai in the name Taiwan should be written in traditional form rather than its simplified counterpart, Chen said.
“It’s not that people who are used to writing Taiwan using the simplified form for the first character are wrong per se, but from an educational standpoint, we advocate traditional characters and are duty bound to make that clearly understood by teachers and students,” Chen said.
Earlier this year, the ministry reaffirmed its commitment to teaching traditional characters in the nation’s classrooms after a parent complained that his child had been assigned the study of simplified characters for homework.
The ministry’s Department of Elementary Education said at the time that promoting traditional Chinese characters in school had always been — and remained — the ministry’s policy.
“Traditional Chinese characters are important cultural assets. Their significance as documented in historical documents is unquestionable,” the department said.
“Traditional Chinese characters should be adopted in school, in textbooks and teaching assignments since their promotion is a national policy,” it said.
President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) sparked controversy last year when he said that Taiwan and China should come to an agreement on the use of Chinese characters, prompting angry responses from both sides of the political spectrum.
The People’s Republic of China introduced the simplified form of Chinese characters in the 1950s and 1960s to help combat illiteracy in the country.
ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY STAFF WRITER
PILLAGING PENGHU: A 7,539-tonne Chinese ship found mining sand in the Formosa Banks area was escorted by several CGA ships to a Kaohsiung harbor The Coast Guard Administration (CGA) yesterday announced that it had dispatched ships to intercept Chinese dredging vessels operating in the nation’s territorial waters near Penghu and detained 10 crew members, who were transported to Kaohsiung. A coast guard patrol discovered more than 20 dredging vessels in an area known as the Formosa Banks, 46 nautical miles (85km) southwest of Penghu County’s Cimei islet (七美) at about 5am on Wednesday. The agency responded by dispatching two patrol boats, the 3,000-tonne Kaohsiung and the 500-tonne Penghu, along with two frigates, to intercept the Chinese vessels, while an airborne observation unit was used to monitor
‘HONEYMOON’ IS OVER: A political science professor said that the Tsai administration’s popularity peaked after it successfully contained COVID-19, but is waning President Tsai Ing-wen’s (蔡英文) and Premier Su Tseng-chang’s (蘇貞昌) approval ratings fell significantly this month in the wake of the government’s handling of the distribution of relief funds and stimulus coupons to people and businesses affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, a poll released yesterday by the New Power Party (NPP) showed. The poll showed that 68 percent of respondents said they were satisfied with Tsai’s performance, down 8.9 percentage points from last month, while 21 percent said they disapproved of her performance. Her approval among respondents aged 20 to 29 fell 14.7 percentage points, the largest decrease when compared with other age
CAUTION: The CECC would first observe how the nation fares after easing domestic restrictions and wait for the pandemic to further subside before making its next move The Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) yesterday said that relaxing domestic restrictions and border controls simultaneously might complicate efforts to reopen the nation, amid discussions about Taiwan’s exclusion by other countries in their first lists of tourists. The center hopes for there to be a period of observation following the easing of domestic restrictions, before it decides what to do next, Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung (陳時中), who heads the center, told a daily news briefing in Taipei. Chen was responding to a question about the reasoning behind the central government’s decision not to allow foreign students into the
Taiwan respects other countries’ decisions not to include it in their first lists of tourists allowed entry when they reopen their borders, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said yesterday. The Yomiuri Shimbun on Sunday reported that the Japanese government was considering reopening the country to tourists from Thailand, Vietnam, Australia and New Zealand first. Greece on Friday announced that from June 15, it would allow visitors from 29 countries, including Australia, China, the Czech Republic, Japan, Israel, New Zealand, South Korea and Germany. Japan has not yet finalized its visitor list, but the ministry has conveyed its hope that Tokyo would