Taiwan deletes simplified Chinese from official sites

By Cindy Sui
BBC News, Taipei

image captionSome simplified characters look completely different from their traditional form

Taiwan is stopping the use of simplified Chinese characters - the type of script used by mainland China - on official websites.

Taiwan normally uses traditional characters but many businesses made the switch after Taiwan opened its doors to mainland tourists three years ago.

Relations between China and Taiwan are at their best in decades.

But President Ma Ying-jeou has argued that the traditional script is one of Taiwan's cultural assets.

China began using simplified characters in the 1950s to raise literacy.

Around 2,000 characters have been simplified, with some looking completely different from their original form.

Ruled separately since the end of a civil war in 1949, Taiwan has continued to use traditional script. It prides itself on being the best preserver of Chinese culture.

But since Taiwan opened its doors to Chinese tourists in 2008, many Taiwanese hotels, restaurants and shops have translated signs, menus and advertisements into simplified Chinese to attract business from Chinese tourists.

Some government agencies also have websites and material in simplified Chinese.

But President Ma has ordered government agencies to stop using simplified words.

He argued that the use of the traditional language is one of Taiwan's cultural assets and Chinese tourists would benefit from experiencing this part of the island's culture.

Taiwan's Tourism Bureau announced on Thursday that it had removed the simplified Chinese version of its website.

Even the card containing emergency contacts and useful information it gives to Chinese tourists will be in traditional script. Other government agencies are expected to follow suit.

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