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Island plan to rewrite history under fire
( 2003-09-24 01:22) (China Daily)

Taipei is using school history lessons to pursue independence for the island, mainland experts on Taiwan studies said Tuesday.

They said planned changes to the school curricula are aimed at severing cultural and historical links between the island and China.

Taiwan's "ministry of education" recently published its draft guidelines for high school history textbooks, which are expected to be enacted in early November.

Under the new rules, first-year senior high school students will study Taiwanese history, from the prehistoric to modern times, in their first semester. They will study Chinese history from ancient times to the early Ming Dynasty (1368-1644) in their second semester.

Second-year senior high school students will spend the school year studying world history from the Age of Discovery to the modern era.

The guidelines, however, incorporate Chinese history from the 1500s onwards -- including the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911) and the "Republic of China" (1912-49) -- into modern world history.

Professor Fan Xizhou with the Taiwan Research Institute of Xiamen University said the changes have exposed the pro-independence mentality of the ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) administration led by Taiwan leader Chen Shui-bian.

"This is a fresh attempt by the ideologically-driven Chen and his administration to dominate local culture and education with their incorrect, separatist view of history," the professor told China Daily.

"The separatist move is meant to confuse the Taiwanese public and disguise the historical fact that Taiwanese history is an indivisible part of Chinese history."

Beijing insists there is only one China, which includes both the mainland and Taiwan.

Li Jiaquan, a researcher with the Institute of Taiwan Studies under the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, said Chen has taken a string of pro-independence moves to give the island a separate identity from the mainland.

He warned the political conspiracy to distort history will hurt the island's education system and the studies of local school children.

The proposed changes to history textbooks have also drawn heavy criticism from within the island. A number of historians and academics wrote letters to local media to express their opposition.

Wu Chan-liang, a history professor at Taiwan University, criticized the "ministry of education" for basing its guidelines on "the view of history that advocates Taiwan independence in a high-profile way."

The move should be considered both an academic disgrace and a serious moral crime against the Chinese people, said Professor Tseng Hsiang-duo from Suchow University.

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