'There were some phrases that have been found objectionable and we wanted to make them more neutral,' said Lan Shun-teh, director-general of the National Institute of Compilation and Translation, which publishes texts for the government.
Other changes included substituting 'China' for 'my country', 'this country' or 'the mainland'.
Taiwan citizens and political groups remain divided on the island's identity, with some considering it a nation and others pushing for its reunification with China once it embraces democracy.
Xu Shiquan, vice president of the National Society of Taiwan Studies in Beijing, described the latest revisions as 'part of Taiwan's move to erase China, to separate sovereignty'.
'But to do that is not useful,' he said. 'History isn't something you can change.'
A spokesman for Taiwan's People First Party, a minor party known for its close China ties, called for the education minister to resign because of the textbook changes.
This is part of a continuing wave of pro-Taiwan educational changes that began back in the 1990s with the introduction of Taiwan-focused junior high history texts. In 1997 the Ministry of Education published the Getting to Know Taiwan textbook series, which set the stage for further evolution.
These changes are long overdue. The Taipei Times editorialized two years ago:
A long-standing problem with Taiwan's textbooks is their departure from the truth. Examples include portraying Chiang Kai-shek (
蔣介石) as a type of saint when he is generally perceived as an authoritarian dictator and warlord by world historians, and the inclusion of Mongolia as part of the Republic of China's (ROC) territory when the rest of the world has long recognized it as an independent country. Countless other examples exist that highlight the severity of the problem.
Even more troublesome is that the history of Taiwan is typically addressed by a few short paragraphs in these textbooks, while almost all of so-called "national history" is dedicated to chapters of Chinese history. These range from childhood stories about people such as Chiang and Sun Yat-sen (
孫中山) that are no more real than fairy tales, to the magnificence of the Great Wall. Leaving aside whether there is any point at all in being familiar with some of these events -- whether as national history or as foreign or Chinese history -- such textbooks clearly do not help people identify with the land and society in which they live.
The new textbooks will also include information on the debate over the sovereignty of Taiwan, according to previous plans.