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Last Updated: Wednesday, 31 January 2007, 18:10 GMT
Taiwan PM wades into history row
By Caroline Gluck
BBC News, Taipei

Taiwan's Prime Minister Su Tseng-chang
Taiwan's prime minister has defended his education minister
Taiwan has defended changes to new history textbooks which have been strongly criticised by rival China and some opposition lawmakers in Taiwan.

The books, which go into classes next month, will refer to the "mainland" or "our country" simply as "China".

They therefore suggest Taiwan is a separate entity and not part of Chinese territory, as Beijing claims.

Taiwan's prime minister is the latest official to weigh in on this controversy.

Su Tseng Chang has strongly defending changes to the high school history textbooks and backing his education minister.

Revisions

During the weekly cabinet meeting, he said students should be taught about their own country and their history.

Critics say the changes are another attempt by President Chen Shui-bian's independence-leaning administration to try to downplay the island's cultural and historic links with China.

China regards the island as part of its territory and has threatened to use force if Taiwan formally declares independence.

Beijing says the latest changes are politically motivated and it has accused Taiwanese officials of introducing independence ideologies into the classroom.

Some opposition politicians in Taiwan have also complained that the changes are an attempt to cut the island's historic links to China and called for the education minister to resign.

Sensitive

Among the revisions, references to the "mainland" and "our country" are removed and simply replaced with "China".

While Dr Sun Yat-sen is referred to only by name without previous explanations that he was also the nation's founding father.

Identity is one of the most sensitive issues in Taiwan, although in recent years more people are identifying themselves as Taiwanese rather than Chinese.

It is a trend that clearly worries Beijing.

Earlier this month, China also complained about proposed changes to the charter of Taiwan's National Palace Museum, which contains the most important treasures which were once held in Beijing's Forbidden City.

The authorities accused officials of trying to remove references about where the art treasures originally came from.




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