Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Mainland China to Resume the Use of Traditional Chinese Characters within Ten Years?

Mainland China to Resume the Use of Traditional Chinese Characters within Ten Years?
Nanfang Daily
March 3, 2009
Translated by Bevin Chu

Love without a Heart: Ai, or "Love," in Simplified Chinese 
Love with a Heart: Ai, or "Love," in Traditional Chinese

The China Desk: Taiwan independence demagogues have long denounced Chinese reunification as "surrender to Beijing." 


Champions of free market capitalism, including myself, like to joke that "The Cold War is over. We won." 

The USSR lost the Cold War to the USA. The PRC lost the Cold War to the ROC.  

Beijing was forced to admit that it lost to Taipei. Beijing was forced to admit that it was defeated by Taipei in the War of Economic Systems. Deng Xiaoping on the Chinese mainland, was forced to adopt the free market capitalism practiced by Chiang Kai-shek and Chiang Ching-kuo on Taiwan.   

So who surrendered to whom? 

If that isn't enough, now Beijing is being forced to admit that it lost to Taipei in the War of Characters. 

So who says reunification means "surrender to Beijing?"

Closer examination suggests that reunification means "victory over Beijing." 

Mainland China to Resume the Use of Traditional Chinese Characters within Ten Years? 
Nanfang Daily 
March 3, 2009
Translated by Bevin Chu

Pan Qingling, a Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference Committee Member, has proposed that the nation phase out the use of Simplified Chinese characters in stages, and resume the use of Traditional Chinese characters within ten years, for three reasons.

One. The adoption of Simplified Chinese characters in the 1950s, during the last century, was too crude. It constituted a violation of Chinese writing, both artistically and scientifically. For example, the Traditional Chinese character for "love" includes the character for "heart." Upon simplification, the result is "love without a heart."

Two. It was once said that Traditional Characters were too complex, too hard to learn, too hard to write, and not conducive to popularization. But now most people use computers. No matter how complex the characters might be, they are no more difficult to type. This is no longer a problem.

Three. Resuming the use of Traditional Chinese characters is beneficial to reunification. The Taiwan region still uses Traditional Chinese characters, and refers to them as "Standard Characters." This has deep implications. The use of "Standard Characters" as an intangible cultural heritage exerts a form of pressure on the mainland.

2009年03月03日 03:33 


1 上世紀50年代簡化漢字時太粗糙,違背了漢字的藝術和科學性。比如愛字,繁體字裡有個“心”,簡化後,造成“無心之愛”。

2 以前說繁體字太繁瑣,難學難寫,不利於傳播,但是現在很多人都是用電腦輸入,再繁瑣的字打起來也一樣,所以這個問題已經漸漸不存在。

3 恢復使用繁體字有利於兩岸統一。現在台灣依然用繁體字,並稱其為“正體字”,深有意味,還要為“正體字”申請非物質文化遺產,給祖國大陸方面造成了壓力。


  1. Anonymous7:06 AM

    What should really happen is the adoption of a new system that harmonizes spoken Chinese with a phonetic system. But, that would be putting practicality and usability as top priorities; unlikely. Chinese characters... the argument always comes down to cultural legacy and heritage. Are these the best reasons to keep a writing system?

  2. Ideographic systems are indeed harder to learn. But phonetic systems have their own disadvantages as well.

    If the written language must reflect the spoken, then any "drift" in the spoken language leads to a mismatch between the two.

    In the long term it can lead to a "Tower of Babel" situation where different geographical regions diverge linguistically, then culturally, and eventually even politically, for no good reason.

  3. I've seen this debate on tv. Phoenix TV's programme, Tiger Talk, holds a debate on this issue and it seems many mainlanders also agree that simplified characters are not artistically good looking. However, some also think that it is possible to use both systems, simplified and traditional, conditionally.

  4. Simplified vs. Standard Characters isn't really a Beijing vs. Taipei issue to the extent that the Taiwan independence zealots would have people believe.

    In fact most Taiwan independence zealots don't realize they are using Simplified Characters when they write "Taiwan" most of the time.

    Just like everyone else, they write Taiwan using "台" and not "臺"

  5. Jeffy Lew11:17 PM

    Very insightful post! I never thought about the ROC winning the culture war, but that is certainly happening. The PRC, unfortunately, are not good bearers of culture.

    I have no problems of a re-unification in which the ROC leads China, as long as there continue to be opposition parties. Competition is healthy, after all.

  6. Dear Jeffy,

    Thanks! The Green Camp likes to jump all over anyone who advocates reunification without bothering to ask "Under what terms?"

    Many Deep Blues such as myself who demand reunification, have strict preconditions. Reunification must be under our terms, not theirs.

    The problem with Taiwan independence zealots is that their reason for opposing reunification is not really based on any purported love of "freedom and human rights," but on ethnic bigotry.

    They are determined to artificially concoct a "Taiwanese, not Chinese" ethnic and national identity.

    Their lip service to "freedom and human rights" is merely window dressing.