2007-03-21

Top of the News in Taiwan

This month in 1891 saw the publication of Taiwan's first printed news. Published by the Presbyterian Church in Taiwan, the Taiwan Provincial Church News (Tâi-oân-hú-siâⁿ Kàu-hōe-pò 台灣府城教會報) used a romanization system for putting the Taiwanese language into written form for the first time. The anniversary arrives in the same month as the birthday of missionary George Leslie Mackay (1844-1901) on March 21.

The event stands as a representative example of the significant role played by the Presbyterian Church in Taiwan's modern history. The influence of the Presbyterians in Taiwanese history has been far out of proportion to their actual numbers here because of their commitment to protecting the island's natives and preserving their culture. Worship services and news bulletins in Taiwanese, for example, validated the use of the language under Japanese and Kuomintang regimes that attempted to eradicate its use from public life. People who found themselves under threat of arrest for political reasons often found in the Presbyterians a means of escape to destinations abroad.

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