Taipei Times Wednesday, Jun 10, 2009, Page 1

President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) said yesterday he hoped that Taiwan could reach an agreement with Beijing on the teaching of traditional and simplified Chinese characters at schools for overseas Taiwanese and Chinese, whereby students would be taught to read traditional characters and write simplified characters.

“We hope both sides of the Taiwan Strait will come to an agreement on the matter,” Ma said. “Our suggestion is that Chinese be able to understand traditional Chinese characters and write in simplified Chinese.”

Ma made the remarks while meeting members of a Chinese association from California at the Presidential Office yesterday morning.

He did not elaborate on what he meant by “understanding traditional Chinese characters and writing in simplified Chinese,” nor on how such an agreement would be reached with Beijing .

Ma said many schools that teach Mandarin to overseas compatriots, especially those in the US , teach traditional Chinese, while those established by Beijing teach simplified Chinese.

Traditional Chinese characters are a unique feature of Chinese culture, but overseas compatriots educated in China cannot read them, he said, adding that he hoped to see traditional Chinese characters in print form taught at expatriate schools for easy understanding of ancient Chinese books.

“I have made efforts over the years to promote traditional Chinese characters,” he said. “I hope one day they will be listed as a UNESCO world heritage because there are very few civilizations that can still read scripts dating back to thousands of years ago.”

Overseas Compatriot Affairs Commission (OCAC) Minister Wu Ying-yi (
吳英毅), who was present at yesterday’s meeting, later told reporters Ma meant to encourage overseas compatriots to learn traditional characters, and to encourage overseas Chinese schools to teach traditional characters.

Wu said the OCAC has collaborated with 2,000 schools that teach Mandarin abroad.

The OCAC provides the schools with materials to teach traditional Chinese characters and never provides materials to teach simplified characters, he said.

“This policy will not change in the future,” he said, adding that Ma meant to encourage overseas compatriots to learn traditional characters.

As to Ma’s comments on “understanding traditional Chinese and writing simplified Chinese,” Wu said Ma meant to urge those who write in simplified characters to learn to read traditional characters.


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