TAIPEI Taiwan plans to change the name of its official Mandarin Chinese language in public schools to a term that avoids referring to China, a curriculum planner said on Thursday, another move to distance the self-ruled island from Beijing.
China has regarded Taiwan as part of its territory since the end of the Chinese civil war in 1949 and has threatened to use force, if necessary, to make the island reunite.
Taiwan President Chen Shui-bian, who advocates formal independence from Beijing, has already deleted China references from the names of state firms and landmarks.
The island now plans to do away with "zhong-wen", the name of the official language, because of its reference to "China", said Chen Wan-yi, a curriculum architect with the Ministry of Education.
Mandarin Chinese's new name would be "hua-yu," which does not pinpoint a country. The change could come into force in schools by 2010 once the proposal is approved, he said.
Most people in Taiwan speak Mandarin, which originated in China and is all but universally spoken there.
But Chen said Taiwan's official language does not belong to another country and should reflect that position.
"In the 21st century this is too much of a distortion," he said.
The word "Chinese" will also be struck from literature course material and replaced with the term "this country's literature," Chen added.
In Taiwan high school textbooks, the word "mainland" has already been changed to "China", suggesting separate identities instead of two pieces of land belonging to one government.
(Reporting by Ralph Jennings; Editing by Sanjeev Miglani)