|A child rides his own 'dragonboat'|
Recent efforts by President Ma Ying-jeou’s (馬英九) government to emphasize Chinese studies in school curricula have led some people to warn of a possible “brainwashing” of the nation’s youth and the eventual dissolution of national identity. While the government’s measures are a cause for concern, their effectiveness in undermining Taiwanese identity is questionable.
For decades following its relocation to Taiwan in 1949, the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) imposed strict controls on education and the media to re-sinicize Taiwanese after half a decade of Japanese colonial rule. However, even in an authoritarian and pre-Internet society, those efforts failed to transform Taiwanese into something they were not (for another example of the failure of government propaganda to turn people into mindless automatons, even in closed societies, just ask any cab driver in Cuba for his views on Fidel Castro and communism). However, despite the KMT’s repressive tactics, Taiwanese identity flourished, first as an underground movement and, after the lifting of Martial Law in 1987, as part of national politics with the emergence of the Democratic Progressive Party.
Gone are the days where state control of education can fundamentally shape young people, if it ever did.
My unsigned editorial, published today in the Taipei Times, continues here.