The name of the Taiwan Academy, established in some US cities last month, is too narrow in meaning, degrades Taiwan and should be changed to “Zhonghua Academy (中華書院),” Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) legislators have suggested.
Setting up Taiwan Academies was one of President Ma Ying-jeou’s (馬英九) campaign promises in 2008 as part of his efforts to secure the nation’s role in spreading what he called “Taiwanese culture with Chinese characteristics,” such as promoting the use of traditional Chinese characters, as opposed to the simplified characters used in China.
The first Taiwan Academy opened in New York last month, where an inauguration ceremony was held at the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office there.
The issue came to a head in a budget review for the Overseas Compatriot Affairs Commission (OCAC) by the legislature’s Foreign and National Defense Committee on Monday, where KMT lawmakers questioned OCAC Minister Wu Ying-yih (吳英毅) over the name of the academies.
KMT Legislator Herman Shuai (帥化民) said that “the name ‘Taiwan Academy’ is a name signifying self-localization and demotes ourselves to the status of a province [of China] and is [an] absolutely unforgivable [act].”
Naming is an issue that’s either right or wrong and an issue that cannot be avoided, he said, adding that “Ma can not decide everything by himself.”
“The national defense and economy of Taiwan are already falling behind that of China, how can we also give up the culturally ‘orthodox position’?” Shuai asked, adding that “even though the Republic of China is no longer a UN member and we can only refer to ourselves as ‘Taipei’s representative office,’ how can we cede the cultural battle without a single shot fired?”
“I believe we would not be pressured by China if we use the name Taiwan Academy, but we still have to ‘keep the character and guts as the descendants of the Han race [sic],’” Shuai said. “Why was it that we dared not use ‘Zhonghua culture’ (中華文化) [in the name]?”
KMT Legislator Lin Yu-fang (林郁方) said it was not that difficult to distinguish from China’s Confucius Institutes, referring to the Taiwan Academy project having been in part devised to counter the institutes Beijing has established and around the world in recent years to promote Chinese language and culture, as well as to support Chinese teachers internationally.
“We could rename the ‘Taiwan Academy’ to ‘Zhonghua Academy’ in countries with which we have diplomatic ties, while in countries with which we have no diplomatic ties, we could call them ‘Taipei Zhonghua Cultural Center’ or the ‘Taiwan Zhonghua Cultural Center,’” Lin said. “The point is that the ‘Zhonghua culture’ part has to be kept.”
Wu said the naming of the Taiwan Academy was not under the jurisdiction of any one unit, as it was a cross-ministerial effort headed by the Council for Cultural Affairs.
“We will try to work with legislators’ opinions and will discuss the issue with the Council for Cultural Affairs, the Executive Yuan and other concerned organizations,” he said.
Translated by Jake Chung, staff writer
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