Academic journal article China Perspectives

An Active Policy of "Desinicisation"

Academic journal article China Perspectives

An Active Policy of "Desinicisation"

Article excerpt

(ProQuest: ... denotes non-US-ASCII text omitted.)

Compiled and commented by Mathieu Duchâtel based on:

* "The new version of the history textbooks allows us to rediscover the true face of the history of Taiwan," editorial, Ziyou Shibao (Liberty Times), 1 February 2007.

* Chang Ching-wei, "The revised versions of the high school history textbooks abandon a myth in a neutral manner," Xin Taïwan Xinwen Zhoukan, no 567, 1 February 2007.

* Wang Yi-feng, "National identity: the seeds have to be sown in academic textbooks," Xin Taïwan Xinwen Zhoukan, no 567, 1 February 2007.

* "Legalist independence hits a wall, psychological independence is inflamed," editorial, Lienhebao, 2 February 2007.

* Philip Yang Yung-ming, "Changing names at any price means playing on the heartstrings," Lienhebao, 11 February 2007, p. 15.

* Lin Huo-wang, "Chen Shui-bian is changing names to save his skin after 2006," Lienhebao, 12 February 2007, p. 15.

Since the beginning of 2007, three issues have domi- nated domestic Taiwanese politics: the corruption cases, the selection by the political parties of their candidates for the 2008 presidential elections, and the desinicisation campaign (...) orchestrated by the island's authorities. This last issue is shaped by strategic and ideological dimensions. Since the foundation of the DPP, desinicisation has represented one of the principal demands of the more independence-minded wing of the party. For its defenders, it represents the result of a legitimate effort to refocus the regime of the People's Republic of China on Taiwan. It aims to correct the forced sinicisation of the Taiwanese by the Kuomintang and to liberate a national identity suffocated by an authoritarian regime dedicated to the Greater China myth. For its detractors, on the other hand, this desinicisation effort is based on populist calcula- tions and on an underlying independence ideology. It will end up impoverishing Taiwanese culture by cutting it off from its Chinese roots. Some critics even go so far as to affirm that complete desinicisation would result in a total cul- tural void. In this context of a profound division among the elite, the reform of history textbooks announced in January 2007 by the minister of education, Tu Cheng-sheng((6), has provoked, as on every political initiative of the DPP govern- ment, a hue and cry from the opposition and a volley of applause from the "pro-Taiwanese" political forces. This stormy debate intensified even more when the government announced at the beginning of February the resumption of its campaign to "rectify names"(...) for state-owned enterprises, which consists in replacing the reference to China in their names by a reference to Taiwan. In its English appellation, the Chinese Petroleum Corporation (CPC), has become CPC Taiwan. From now on, the China Shipbuilding Corporation will be called CSBC Taiwan. The Chunghwa Post Corporation (Chunghwa means "China") has been renamed the Taiwan Post Corporation((7). In the Chinese-language versions, the use of the word Chinahas been completely abandoned in favour of Taiwa ((8).At the end of February, the authorities discussed the practical forms for renaming the Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall, one of the major tourist attractions in Taipei, the Taiwan Democracy Memorial Hall((9).

This summary is based first of all on the commentaries by the island's pro-independence press to take stock of the nation-building movement orchestrated by the DPP govern- ment and the logic that rules it. Nation-building is distinct from "state-building". While seeking to maintain stability in the Taiwan Strait, Chen Shui-bian and his successive gov- ernments have been extremely prudent as far as state-build- ing is concerned, while devoting considerable energy to "Taiwanise" Taiwanese society, considering that it was nec- essary to "desinify" it for that. This analysis then sets out to take stock of the criticisms scourging this desinicisation poli- cy, based on an editorial and two opinion articles published by renowned academics in the opposition's daily newspaper Lienhebao. …

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