Well I sent a letter to the Taipei Times (for what it’s worth, I doubt they’ll print it - maybe I should send to the other two rags, but I’m too lazy to search for their e-mail addresses).
Anyway, it’s an attempt to address the kind of response that goes “OK you’ve convinced me, maybe pinyin is better and more international and truly standard, but we just can’t choose it for political reasons”
The government has made a cowardly choice in selecting Tongyong over Pinyin for the romanisation of Chinese. If the DPP administration is truly pro-localisation, they should choose Pinyin. “Wait”, I hear you say, “Pinyin is the Chinese system favoured by the pro-unification camp, and Tongyong is the Taiwanese system favoured by the pro-localisation group.”
Well I’m in favour of localisation, and I support Pinyin for two reasons. Firstly, Pinyin is not just the system used in China, it is the system for writing Chinese with Roman (ABC) letters used everywhere in the world except Taiwan. All foreign students of Chinese, newspapers, academic journals and books about China use Pinyin these days. Why on earth does Taiwan want to go and cut itself off from the rest of the world because of its conflict with China? Do we use a ‘different’ Internet with 85% compatible web addresses just because we don’t want to use the same system as China?
Secondly, choosing Tongyong is a sign of cowardice. To anyone who has studied the issue, it is quite obvious that for practical purposes Pinyin is the best choice. Unfortunately some people argue that there are more important political considerations. By choosing Pinyin, the argument goes, Taiwan will somehow be admitting that it is part of Communist China. Are we so afraid of what China thinks? Can’t we make a decision like this without worrying that it might have some hidden unificationist purpose? Choosing Tongyong is really just allowing ourselves to make the wrong decision because we’re afraid of China’s bullying.
I hope the Taiwanese Government will stand up and choose the best system because it is the best, not becuase they’re afraid. At the same time we should be proud that we have retained Chinese culture through the use of traditional characters. This is proof enough that we do things differently than China.