The Presidential Office yesterday dismissed Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) allegations that the government is promoting a double standard through its support for Hanyu pinyin and traditional Chinese characters, insisting that the two issues were completely unrelated.
President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) last week expressed his support for traditional Chinese characters in the wake of a dispute over the use of simplified characters to cater to an expected influx of free independent travelers from China later this month, and instructed all government agencies to use traditional Chinese characters in official documents and on related Web sites.
Traditional Chinese characters, Ma said, represent the beauty of Chinese culture and history, and as a pioneer in Chinese culture, Taiwan should retain its use of the traditional script.
Ma’s endorsement of traditional Chinese characters met with criticism from DPP Legislator Wong Chin-chu (翁金珠) and a group of activists who advocate the use of the Taiwan Tongyong Pinyin system. They accused Ma of adopting a double standard by promoting traditional Chinese characters and Hanyu Pinyin, which was developed by China.
The government should remove road signs that use Hanyu Pinyin before tearing down store signs written in simplified Chinese characters, they said.
Presidential Office spokesman Fan Chiang Tai-chi (范姜泰基) said the Hanyu Pinyin system is used not only in China, but also other countries around the world, and the system was adopted for the convenience of foreign tourists.
“The use of traditional Chinese characters on the other hand promotes Chinese culture. There is no contradiction between the two issues and the government is right to promote both,” he said.
The Hanyu pinyin system was adopted in Taipei City when Ma served as Taipei mayor in 2002. At the time he insisted that Taipei City Government would continue using Hanyu pinyin as its Romanization standard despite the central government’s decision to make Tongyong pinyin the official system for the Romanization of street signs.
Hanyu pinyin has been adopted as part of a global trend so that Taiwan does not needlessly isolate itself from the international community, the decision had nothing to do with seeking closer ties with China, Fan Chiang said, urging the DPP not to politicize the issue.
The government will not ban private sector companies from using simplified Chinese characters, but would continue to encourage stores and shops to use traditional Chinese as a way of attracting Chinese tourists with the characters beauty and uniqueness, he added.
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