I first read about the Taiwanese government’s new stance on character usage from the BBC article “Taiwan deletes simplified Chinese from official sites”. The article gets the basics of the story. This article (in Chinese) from UDN has more information and a video of the press conferences. Most of my thoughts come from after seeing the video.
The BBC article makes it seem that the government decision came out of nowhere. The Taiwanese article states that it stems from the fact that individual tourism from China to Taiwan will begin by the end of the month. Since tourism from China to Taiwan started, a lot of Taiwanese tourism businesses (printed commercials and websites) and Taiwan government websites have been using simplified characters to accommodate the tourists. The government is not actively telling businesses not to use simplified characters – ie it’s not law or regulated. They are only suggesting that traditional characters be used more. The government has already removed all simplified characters from its websites, except for the Mainland Affairs Council.
What I find interesting is the reasoning behind the recommendation. From the press conferences, the basic idea is that the government officials feel that traditional characters are an important part of Taiwan’s culture. It was also stated that 蔣中正 (Chiang Kai Shek) insisted Taiwan use traditional characters while the Cultural Revolution was occurring in China. Coming from a government led by a president who is part of the 國民黨 (Kuo Ming Tang; Nationalistic Party), I thought making the distinction between China and Taiwan was not very characteristic of the party. However, the justification of the traditional characters being a part of the history of the Nationalistic Party brings it back within the lines.