President Ma Ying-jeou’s (馬英九) re-election campaign office released a TV advertisement yesterday that highlighted his commitment to promoting Chinese culture, a policy that the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) has denounced.
The advertisement, the fourth in a series of Ma campaign commercials, features interviews with children and parents on both sides of the Taiwan Strait about their experience attending Chinese classics recital classes.
The classes, where teachers and volunteers teach children the Four Books and Five Classics (四書五經), a collection of Confucian writings dating back to 300BC, began at the Confucius Temple in Taipei about 12 years ago and gradually expanded nationwide, as well as to cities in China.
In the past decade, more than 290,000 teachers and volunteers and about 2 million children have been involved in the program, which aims to promote Chinese culture, Ma’s campaign office said.
In the advertisement, a child from the Chinese city of Changsha, Hunan Province, said that he learned from the class that “we should not attack people ... we should get along well with people.”
The Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) says at the end of the commercial that children and teachers “are the ones who truly understand Taiwan’s advantages, unlike the DPP.”
However, the advertisement reminds people of the days when they were forced to read about -Confucianism in high school, DPP spokesperson Liang Wen-jie (梁文傑) said.
“If the Four Books and Five Classics represent the best that Chinese culture has to offer ... if Chinese culture is that great ... we would not have seen so many authoritarian regimes throughout Chinese history,” he said.
The classics are good books, Liang said, but it is inappropriate to use them and “Chinese culture” as a tool to advance ideology and political ideas.
“Why can’t children read the works of Shakespeare and Plato?” he said.
“The DPP holds the view that children should connect to the world and be taught the importance of cultural diversity. It does not do children any good to force them to learn only about Chinese culture,” DPP spokesperson Chen Chi-mai (陳其邁) said.
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