Sun, Sep 24, 2017 - Page 3 News List

‘Treasure’ online archive of US documents opens

By Peng Wan-hsin and Jonathan Chin  /  Staff reporter, with staff writer

The Taiwan National Treasure initiative, which aims to create an online archive of official US documents about Taiwan, is up and running.

The Web site, www.nationaltreasure.tw, was launched on Sept. 11.

The materials obtained from the US National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) construct a history of Taiwan from a US perspective, project coleader Lin Yu-cheng (林育正) said on Tuesday.

They enable Taiwanese readers to view themselves from a different vantage point and challenge historical narratives created by the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) during its rule, Lin said.

“We hope the project can help Taiwan create its own national identity,” he said.

The project was launched in September last year by Lin, tech entrepreneur Hsiao Hsin-cheng (蕭新晟) and State University of New York Downstate Medical Center assistant research professor Abraham Chuang (莊士杰).

The program crowd-sources volunteers to scan NARA documents about Taiwan and displays them on an open-access online collection, they said.

The volunteers have come across a myriad of materials, including declassified CIA documents, which include the agency’s communications with agents in Taiwan, economic surveys, interviews with writers of the nativist literature movement and assessments of public opinion in Taiwan, they said.

Hsiao, who designed the Web site, said he hopes it will provide an outside perspective on the history of Taiwan that might disentangle polarized historical debates.

The initiative will contribute to the nation’s formation of a national identity by giving the public an opportunity to objectively view Taiwan’s history, he said.

“NARA has about 60 million documents that are relevant to Taiwan and just 16,000 of them have been processed, so there is a long way to go,” Hsiao said. “In the future, we hope to work on the archives of former colonizers like Japan and the Netherlands.”

Looking at the nation’s history through the lens of US officials poked holes in the KMT’s official narrative, Lin said.

Making US documents available to the public will allow the average citizen to interrogate primary sources and search for historical truths, he added.

“I believe the initiative will be a major contribution to the formation of a new Taiwanese consensus and identity,” Lin said.

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