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July 28, 2017

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Is the MOE rewriting history or brainwashing the nation?

It is scientifically impossible to alter history, unless what you are tampering with are the written records of the incidents that happened — or at least what people believe to have happened.

Our Ministry of Education (MOE) is not well known for its stability in sticking to its own rules or policies, especially when it changes the pronunciations of Chinese characters almost every year and is planning to alter yet again the history curriculum of Taiwanese high schools, the current one being in use for a mere two years.

Its inconsistency aside, the MOE claims that the recent change is needed as the current textbooks and curriculum lacked several important sections on Taiwan's history. But when the slated adjustments were released to the public, it became obvious that the seemingly crucial additions are dwarfed by the number of minor changes the MOE made. Most of the alternations were word changes that many slammed to be "leaning toward China."

Among the alterations, students will be learning about Zheng Cheng-gong (鄭成功) as a Ming Dynasty ruler in Taiwan, instead of simply the Zheng family governing on its own; the Dutch and Spaniards merely "entered" Taiwan instead of actually ruling it; the Qing Dynasty is to be referred to as the court of Qing; and the name "China" will become "mainland China" from now on to stay in line with the terminology of the Constitution and the Act Governing Relations between the People of the Taiwan Area and the Mainland Area.

Historians lashed out first, saying that the changes were "rewriting history" and the ruling Kuomintang (KMT) thus regards Taiwan as nothing more than a steppingstone, existing only for the benefit of its mother country, China. Additionally, the new history textbooks will put too much emphasis on cross-strait relations and are paving the way for China to rule over Taiwan officially.

To civilians, the alterations seem small-scale and trivial at first glance because words are only switched around, not plucked out entirely, and will not likely affect readers' perception of history — that is, for people who are familiar with the previous versions of Taiwan's history. But reading between the lines? The Ma administration, or at least its educational branch, is saying that despite alien tribe invasions, Taiwan has always belonged to China; China is the One Power that was — and stands — legitimate throughout Taiwan's history.

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