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June 26, 2017

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Taiwan's epic legacy undercut by history textbook censors

Censorship of history textbooks has existed everywhere. Even in the United States, where the First Amendment was added to the Constitution to protect freedom of speech, school textbooks were censored as late as in 1983. Any mention of President Franklin Roosevelt's New Deal was deleted from a textbook in Texas simply because its school board and community members viewed the Roosevelt administration as socialistic and disagreed with his economic decisions.

Closer to home, Frank Hsieh who ran unsuccessfully against Ma Ying-jeou in the 2008 presidential election, proposed a resolution at a Democratic Progressive Party's Central Standing Committee meeting to have a recent change by the history textbook review committee of the Ministry of Education nullified. The passage in the textbook offensive to Hsieh reads: "After the government (of the Republic of China) was removed to Taiwan, the sovereignty of our country is still extended over the whole of China." He wants to have it rewritten as "After the Kuomintang removed the government to Taiwan, the government still claims that the sovereignty extends to the whole of China, and there have since been disputes among political parties, while most of the people (of Taiwan) disagree (with that claim)."

The textbook review committee has made a few other changes opposition party politicians want to rewrite. Legislator Cheng Li-chun objected to the phrase "the rule by the House of Cheng (Koxinga)" and wanted it changed to "the fall of the House of Cheng" -- the reason being accentuation of Taiwan under Chinese rule for 20 years in the 17th century. She opposed the "retrocession of Taiwan" and "the removal of the government to Taiwan (in 1949)," because she believes those words are denigrating the dignity of Taiwan identity. Moreover, she insists that the substitution of "China" with "the Chinese Mainland" in the textbooks is a switch of the Taiwanese view of history to that of Greater China's and the replacement of the Qing Dynasty with the Qing Court is simply emphasizing Taiwan's subordinate relationship as a local government to the imperial court in Beijing.

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