Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Bo Po Mo Fo and the Security Council

Sorry, working very late in the office and it will be difficult for me to do my usual blog entry. Allow me some recompense by mentioning to rather notable events that happened on November 23rd. In 1918, the Education Ministry of China, divided though the country was, made an important decision - they created an educational system known as Bo Po Mo Fo that was essentially a phoneticization of the Chinese language. It is still used in some traditional Chinese environments today, such as in Taiwan. It was essentially a type of alphabet that could then be used to teach how to pronounce the various characters. It was of course later superceded by the simplification of the characters by Mao, which made more of the characters based on similar sounds, and also the development of Han Yu Pin Yin (and earlier of the Wade Giles system).

But still, it was significant as the Chinese literati finally recognized that great masses of illiterate people was a problem and that ways had to be developed to make the Chinese language accessible to its own people, let alone anyone else. [An interesting note - up through the First Opium War, any Chinese person found teaching Chinese to a foreigner could be severely punished]

Another important event for this part of the world on November 23rd? It was the day in 1971 that Communist China took its seat at the UN Security Council. Nixon's rapprochement was already well underway, and the US and China being on the same side of the Vietnam conflict, and more broadly, standing against the USSR, paved the way for de-recognition of Taiwan. The USSR was not going to deny the creation of a country whose Communist leadership it had played a major role in cultivating, and so the ROC delegates were asked to leave, and PRC ones took their place. The winds of change had manifested themselves, and manifested themselves first in New York City.

As they are wont to do.

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