Taiwan textbook row: Talks break down

TAIPEI • Talks between Taiwanese student protesters and education officials broke down yesterday after an emotional meeting about controversial changes to the school curriculum which have been slammed as "China-centric".

Students asked Education Minister Wu Se-hwa to retract the schoolbook guidelines which sparked protests that escalated last Thursday following the suicide of an activist who opposed the changes.

Protesters stormed the ministry compound early last Friday following the suicide of 20-year-old activist Lin Kuan-hua, and some remain camped out in the square.

Mr Wu said during the talks, which lasted more than two hours, that there was nothing "unlawful" about the new curriculum, while the seven students attending the meeting were angered at what they saw as a lack of compromise.

"We came here with the intention to compromise, because we are tired," a tearful Chen Chien- hsun told reporters afterwards. "But the needle didn't move at all."

Self-governing Taiwan split from the mainland in 1949 after a civil war, but Beijing still sees the island as part of its territory and does not rule out force to achieve reunification at some stage.

There is growing concern, especially among the young, about perceived increased Chinese influence over Taiwan.

Mr Wu said teachers can choose to use old versions of textbooks or the ones published under the new curriculum announced last February. Among the changes under debate is one reference to Taiwan being "recovered by China" instead of "given to China" after the end of the Japanese occupation in 1945.

The 50-year period of Japanese rule is also referred to as an era when "Japan occupied" the island, replacing the phrase "Japan governed".


A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 04, 2015, with the headline 'Taiwan textbook row: Talks break down'. Subscribe