World

Taiwan school textbook row highlights antipathy to 'one China'

3 August 2015 - 31   - 0

(REUTERS) Protests in Taiwan over textbook revisions which students say aim to brainwash them into accepting a "one China" view of history underscore the island's growing sense of independence from its vast neighbor and geopolitical foe. Hundreds of youths stormed the ministry of education compound on Friday and dozens were still camped out in the courtyard on Monday in a bid to repeal changes to history books likely to hit school shelves this week. The move follows months of smaller protests in which students have thrown paint balloons, shouted slogans and staged sit-ins in front of the ministry. Last month, dozens were arrested for scaling ladders and breaking into the building. One later committed suicide, though the motivation was unclear. The protests, the largest in over a year, reflect a surge of nationalism among Taiwan's youth, who are far more likely than their elders to identify as Taiwanese rather than Chinese. They also come ahead of January elections in which the youth movement will likely help sweep in a party which leans toward independence from China, something Communist Party rulers in Beijing will never condone, even though the island is self ruled. "We are Taiwan. China is China," Liu Tzuhao, 18, said in front of a makeshift memorial to the suicide victim at the protest site. Taiwan's ruling Nationalist Party fled to the island after losing the civil war against China's communists in 1949. China has since viewed Taiwan, which goes under the official name of Republic of China, as a renegade province and has not ruled out the use of force to bring it under its control. "We are Taiwanese and should study Taiwan's history," 17-year-old Keanu Hsu declared during a forum hosted by the ministry before school begins at the end of August. When ministry officials at the forum light-heartedly asked the students what name could replace Republic of China, they shouted "Taiwan" in response. History teacher Chang Wen Lung said the textbooks warped historical episodes such as agreements establishing Republic of China sovereignty over Taiwan after World War Two and denigrated the influence of Japan, the island's colonial ruler for decades prior and traditional foe of Beijing. ECHOES OF HONG KONG'S "ONE COUNTRY, TWO SYSTEMS" FORMULA The protests echo last year's Sunflower Movement, in which thousands of young people occupied parliament for weeks to oppose growing economic ties with China. They also reflect the same fears about Beijing's "one country, two systems" formula under which Hong Kong, a former British colony, returned to Chinese rule in 1997 and which Beijing aims to impose upon Taiwan. Months of pro-democracy protests on Hong Kong streets last year threw that formula under a harsh light and became a huge embarrassment for Beijing. The ministry has called for dialogue and the two sides are expected to meet later in the day, though hopes for a breakthrough are not high. One student threw a rubber sandal at Education Minister Wu Se-Hwa on Friday when he emerged to address them. Over the weekend the ministry website was inaccessible after a suspected hacking. "We understand there's controversy behind the textbooks," Wu told Reuters in a recent interview. "We hope it can contribute to positive discourse in the classroom rather than on the street." Wu said teachers could choose how much of the revised books should be used and said that points of controversy would not be part of national examinations. Such concessions have yet to appease opponents, who say the revision process lacked transparency and the committee was stacked with unification advocates under China-friendly President Ma Ying-jeou, who has overseen a number of trade deals with the mainland. "It's ridiculous," said protester Peng Cheng, 18. "One country cannot have two kinds of history." [caption id="attachment_80419" align="alignnone" width="450"]Activists march on the street during a protest in front of the Ministry of Education in Taipei, Taiwan, August 2, 2015. REUTERS/Pichi Chuang Activists march on the street during a protest in front of the Ministry of Education in Taipei, Taiwan, August 2, 2015. REUTERS/Pichi Chuang[/caption]  

  Comments - 0

  • Leave a comment



Top Stories

Minister Kiriella's staffers released on bail

Three employees of Minister Lakshman Kiriella's Media Unit who were arrested with documents alleged to have been detrimental to public sec...

18 June 2019 - Views : 5

Nine Iranians nabbed with narcotics further remanded

18 June 2019

Two persons who undertook Rs 3 m worth murder contract arrested

18 June 2019

Investigators from Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and Maldives gather for regional workshop conducted by UNODC

18 June 2019



style="display:inline-block;width:300px;height:250px"
data-ad-client="ca-pub-6200193111498313"
data-ad-slot="1999573490">

 

Features & Analysis

British High Commission Colombo celebrates Queen Elizabeth's 93rd birthday

The British High Commission in Colombo and the British Council celebrated Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II’s 93rd...

Supporting the revival of the local coffee industry

In a time gone by in Ceylon, it was coffee that was a booming plantation before disease struck, wiping out thousands ...

"On Broadway" with the Workshop Players

The Rotary Club of Colombo West in collaboration with The Workshop Players of Sri Lanka are proud to announce a night...

New rainforest gecko joins growing list of reptiles unique to Sri Lanka

From the eastern fringe of Sri Lanka’s Sinharaja rainforest, scientists have described a new species of day gec...



style="display:inline-block;width:300px;height:250px"
data-ad-client="ca-pub-6200193111498313"
data-ad-slot="1999573490">