Taipei is going to host the “2004 Taipei Chinese character festival.” This begins with various exhibitions and children’s activities but will conclude with the International Academic Conference on Chinese Characters and Globalization, to be held January 28-30 at the National Library.
According to Liao Hsien-hao (寥咸浩), the head of Taipei’s Cultural Affairs Bureau and one of the main people behind Taipei’s adoption of Hanyu Pinyin:
[quote]the most important task for the conference was to identify and discuss the threats facing the Chinese writing system. Scholars and professionals from various fields will discuss the status of Chinese characters in the “Confucian sphere of influence,” which extends throughout East and Southeast Asia. Although Japan is the only non-Chinese society that still uses Chinese characters in its writing system, both Korean and Vietnamese were written using Chinese (or Chinese-based) characters in the recent past.
What are the benefits or drawbacks of switching to Latin or phonetic scripts (as Korea and Vietnam) did or simplifying characters as China has? As the Chinese script that can be used to write very different languages, it has historically been a symbol of China’s will to unite and rule “all under heaven.” But in today’s very different world, is the use of this ancient script still practical or meaningful?[/quote]
I suspect this conference is not going to be as probing as this article makes it sound. But I could be wrong. I’ll be out of the country then, so I won’t be able to find out in person.