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June 29, 2017

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Ma dispels misunderstanding over views on traditional Chinese script

President Ma Ying-jeou yesterday did his best to dispel misunderstandings about his policy regarding learning the traditional Chinese script.

In a 15-minute speech before the sixth International Conference on Internet Chinese Education, President Ma, who came under fire for misunderstood comments on teaching schoolchildren in Taiwan the simplified Chinese script, reiterated his policy of urging China to learn the traditional, two-millenia old writing system.

The reiteration wasn't necessary, though. But the president availed himself of the opportunity to open the meeting to express how deeply he loves the traditional script and why he should champion its cause.

"I have more than enough reasons to urge Chinese on the other side of the Taiwan Strait to relearn the traditional script they gave up decades ago," Ma told the participants in the three-day conference organized by the Overseas Chinese Affairs Commission (OCAC).

He said the fact that he is president of the Republic of China is a major reason why he should insist on the Chinese relearning the "right" script.

Two other reasons are that he is the chairman of the National Cultural Association of the Republic of China and he "constantly" uses the Chinese language.

"I have long been in love with the Chinese language," President Ma declared. That's why he says he has to try to make the people on the mainland write like their counterparts in Taiwan. "It's my inescapable duty to promote Chinese culture, of which the traditional script is an integral part," he pointed out.

And yet, President Ma said, he was misunderstood in Taiwan.

There is no need whatsoever for people in Taiwan to switch to the simplified script, Ma iterated. He cited as an example that even the United Nations, which uses the simplified version as the official script for all its documents in Chinese, let the World Health Organization hold a meeting on Chinese medicine using the traditional script so that participants might not be confused when referring to literature published in the past.

Jen Hung, OCAC vice chairman, spoke after the president at the conference, which is taking place at the Howard International House in Taipei.

He expounded President Ma's policy of promoting Chinese education around the world.

As a starter, Jen said, Ma wants to set up at least two institutes of Taiwan in the United States, which will compete with the Confucian Institutes the People's Republic has long established.

The two institutes, one in San Francisco and the other in Los Angeles, will "serve as windows to the world showcasing the Chinese culture with Taiwan characteristics."

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