Updated 8:47 AM EST, Fri, Mar 05, 2021

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Hundreds of Students Break into Taiwan's Ministry of Education to Protest Pro-China Textbook Revisions

Taiwan Students Protest Education Curriculum Change

(Photo : REUTERS/Pichi Chuang) Students protest at the entrance to the Ministry of Education as police officers stand guard in Taipei, Taiwan. The paper reads, "Education is not a political tool".

Hundreds of students on Friday laid siege to Taiwan's Ministry of Education building in Taipei to express their grievance over proposed changes to the country's high school curricula. The protesters claim the curriculum modification is aimed at promoting the interests of Beijing.

Local police revealed that early Friday morning protesters started thronging into the compound of the education ministry. The students, who set up camp in the compound, have asked to speak with Taiwan's Minister of Education Wu Se-hwa. Some have reportedly called for his resignation.

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Police are preventing the protesters from entering the building. Reuters quoted a police spokesman explaining that officers have been ordered not to remove the protesters encamped in the compound of the education ministry.

Last week, over 30 students were arrested after they stormed the education ministry building and locked themselves in the minister's office.

Besides the controversial curriculum revisions, the protesters are also demanding that authorities take responsibility for the death of a student protester. Lin Kuan-hua, a top member of the protest movement, was found dead on Thursday. New Taipei Police have ruled his death as suicide. Representatives of Taiwan's top political parties expressed regret over the death of Lin.

Lin Yu-hua, the spokesperson for the ruling Kuomintang (KMT) (or the Chinese Nationalist Party), said it has been impossible to organize talks with the protesters over the proposed textbook changes because "of obfuscation and intervention by certain political forces."

He further revealed that in June the ministry had agreed to some compromises including permitting schools to continue using textbooks published before the curriculum adjustments alongside the new ones. However, Lin said the opposition Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) failed to properly communicate this to their supporters.

Meanwhile, Taiwan's education minister Wu has expressed willingness to enter into dialogue with the student protesters arrested for breaking into his office recently.

China's claims over Taiwan have been a source of tension between both nations since the Republic of China was founded in the island in the 1940's. Under pro-Beijing President Ma Ying-jeou, experts agree that the relationship between both countries has improved greatly. Nonetheless, President Ma told the BBC recently that much remains to be desired in the relationship between Taiwan and China.

Taiwan's next presidential election has been scheduled for January 2016. Experts say if the DPP's Tsai Ing-wen wins the polls, there is likely to be a change in the country's policies towards China. Tsai is generally considered the leading candidate to win the election.

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