President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) yesterday defended the cultural significance of traditional Chinese characters in a calligraphy activity, saying that there are no political implications behind the promotion of these characters.
Ma joined Taipei Mayor Hau Lung-bin (郝龍斌) and calligraphy masters to write down Chinese characters by creating calligraphy to welcome the new year, while insisting that the government would not promote simplified Chinese characters because of the increasing number of Chinese tourists.
“Traditional Chinese characters carry both cultural significance and artistic values and promoting these characters has nothing to do with any political stance. It’s very important for us not to sacrifice the characters for tourism,” he said during the ceremony at the Grand Hotel in Taipei.
Ma, who helped establish the festival nine years ago during his term as Taipei mayor, said even though the number of Chinese tourists in Taiwan has reached about 3 million a year, they should have no problem reading traditional Chinese characters.
The Taipei City Government’s Department of Cultural Affairs also invited more than 100 calligraphy masters, as well as 20 foreign students and immigrants from countries including the US, Japan, South Korea, Vietnam and India, to write down their new year wishes using Chinese calligraphy.
Fifteen-year-old Neha Purswaney from India wrote the Chinese character for love (愛) on a piece of red paper. A student at Taipei American School, Purswaney said she is interested in traditional Chinese characters because they are special and beautiful.
“[I wrote down the character for love] because Taiwan is a country filled with love, and I hope that Taiwan will continue to be a loving country,” she said.