As mentioned a few posts back, mainland China uses a different form of written Chinese from Taiwan. While China reformed their script during the cultural revolution of the 50s to Simplified Chinese (jiǎnhuàzì), Taiwan stuck with the more complex Traditional Chinese (zhèngtǐzì). Around 2,000 characters were simplified, in an effort to raise literacy rates across China. Taiwan – a separate entity from China since 1949, retained Traditional Chinese writing and has continued to diverge from mainland China culturally and politically since then.
It seems this divergence has hit a new high – recently, official Taiwanese websites are eradicating Simplified Chinese altogether in an effort to preserve the traditional form of the script. The Taiwanese Tourism Bureau, for example, has completely removed the Simplified Chinese version of their site, and thanks to a decree from Taiwanese President Ma, other governmental sites will soon follow suit.
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.
Simplified Chinese will still be seen around Taiwan in the foreseeable future, due to the many tourists that come from the Chinese mainland to visit Taiwan, a country with a strong conservative stance when it comes to traditional Chinese culture. Retail stores, restaurants and hotels will continue to cater for Simplified Chinese readers, but it seems that Taiwan’s official stance on Simplified Chinese has now been made more than apparent.