Ma Ying-jeou Deletes Simplified Characters

Simplified Chinese characters have been erased from the Taiwanese Tourist Bureau’s website on the instructions of President Ma Ying-jeou. Other government agencies are ordered, and private businesses encouraged, to follow this lead. From the Taipei Times:

“To maintain our role as the pioneer in Chinese culture, all government bodies should use traditional Chinese in official documents and on their Web sites, so that people around the world can learn about the beauty of traditional characters,” Presidential Office spokesman Fan Chiang Tai-chi (范姜泰基) quoted Ma as saying.

On Tuesday, the Executive Yuan urged retailers and other businesses to refrain from replacing traditional characters with simplified characters in product descriptions or on menus to cater to FITs [“Free Independent Travellers” from across the Strait]….

Fan Chiang yesterday repeated the Executive Yuan’s call for businesses to stick to traditional characters, saying Taiwan has opened its doors to Chinese tourists for three years and most have no trouble reading traditional characters.

“Chinese tourists come to Taiwan to experience the different culture and traditions here, and we should not take this experience away from them,” Fan Chiang said.

Ma’s political opponents argue that the policy is inconsistent with his position on romanisation:

Ma’s endorsement of traditional Chinese characters met with criticism from DPP Legislator Wong Chin-chu (翁金珠) and a group of activists who advocate the use of the Taiwan Tongyong Pinyin system. They accused Ma of adopting a double standard by promoting traditional Chinese characters and Hanyu Pinyin, which was developed by China.

The government should remove road signs that use Hanyu Pinyin before tearing down store signs written in simplified Chinese characters, they said ….

The Hanyu pinyin system was adopted in Taipei City when Ma served as Taipei mayor in 2002. At the time he insisted that Taipei City Government would continue using Hanyu pinyin as its Romanization standard despite the central government’s decision to make Tongyong pinyin the official system for the Romanization of street signs.

Hanyu pinyin has been adopted as part of a global trend so that Taiwan does not needlessly isolate itself from the international community, the decision had nothing to do with seeking closer ties with China, Fan Chiang said, urging the DPP not to politicize the issue.