Annual character festival starts

By Mo Yan-chih  /  STAFF REPORTER

Mon, Dec 25, 2006 - Page 2

The third annual Chinese Character Festival commenced in Taipei yesterday with Taipei Mayor Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) lauding the beauty of Chinese script and expressed his expectations for the city to become the world capital of traditional characters.

In an effort to expand the scale of the festival, the Taipei City Government joined forces with the Taipei County Government this year to promote the festival.

Dressed in traditional Chinese clothes, Ma and Taipei County Commissioner Chou Hsi-wei (周錫瑋) presided over the ceremony to commemorate the life of Cang Jie (倉頡), the inventor of China's first writing system.

Speaking at the ceremony, Ma lauded Chinese characters as a valuable human asset, which should be protected and promoted around the world.

"There are 1.3 billion people using simplified Chinese characters around the world, but only 50 million people used traditional version. Protecting the standardized characters is necessary to pass on this cultural heritage," Ma said at the temple.

Although the city has attracted more and more tourists from China, Ma said the city government will continue to print city guides and maps with traditional Chinese characters.

"This will provide a chance for Chinese tourists to know the standardized characters," Ma added.

Taipei City Department of Cultural Affairs Director Sebastian Liao (廖咸浩) wrote a poem to remember Cang Jie, while calling on the public to respect the power of knowledge, and to ponder the meaning of life and the beauty of words.

Following the opening ceremony yesterday, there will also be a Chinese character contest next month for elementary school students. Students in Taipei City and Taipei County will compete on their knowledge and ability to use characters.