left to right, not top to bottom

The Chinese characters in government documents in Taiwan are now to be written from left to right rather than from top to bottom, as was often seen before. The move is not a surprise but was announced months ago.

I find it interesting that the premier is willing to state the truth so directly: The reason the government didn’t change earlier was because of reactionary obstructionism based on the fact that China was already using the left-to-right format. If only the government would be so direct about its decision to adopt Tongyong Pinyin. The let’s-not-use-what-China-uses system is much more of an impediment to internationalization than Chinese documents being written top to bottom.

Premier Yu Shyi-kun said on Monday that the government’s decision to reform the format of official documents is aimed at facilitating globalization, not at de-sinicization. Yu made the remarks while presiding over a ceremony marking the launch of a new style of official documents and government gazettes. From now on, Yu said, text in official documents will run from left to right horizontally instead of the traditional style in which the Chinese characters run from right to left and from top to bottom. He noted that the new format complies with the general world trend and said the move has nothing to do with de-sinicization. Whether official documents should adopt the horizontal style caused heated debate more than three decades ago. At that time, Yu said, the then-Kuomintang administration decided to stick to the traditional vertical right-to-left style mainly because mainland China had adopted the horizontal left-to-right text style. Nowadays, Yu went on, such an argument is no longer justifiable. In the face of ever-growing global competition, he said, the government has to implement various reform programs to upgrade operational efficiency and overall national competitiveness. Starting this year, all government notices have also been integrated and posted on the Internet for local citizens to collect first-hand information about government policies regardless of whether they are at home or abroad