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The Taiwan Church News ( ) is a publication of the Presbyterian Church in Taiwan. It was first published in 1885 as the Tâi-oân-hú-siâⁿ Kàu-hōe-pò ({{zh|t=台灣府城教會報|p=Táiwān Fùchéng Jiàohuì Bào}|l=Tainan Church News|links=no}}) under the direction of missionary Thomas Barclay, and was Taiwanmarker's first printed newspaper. This early edition was also notable for being printed in romanised Taiwanese using the Pe̍h-ōe-jī orthography. The publication was banned during the latter stages of Japanese rule and editions were also impounded on several occasions during the martial law era in post-war Taiwan for discussing forbidden subjects.

Early years

Founder Thomas Barclay
The front page of the first edition from 1885
In Taiwan in the late 1800s only the educated elite could read and write, in Classical Chinese. Christian missionaries in southern Taiwan were anxious that their congregations should learn to read and write, and were convinced that romanised script (i.e. Pe̍h-ōe-jī) was easier to learn than Chinese characters. James Laidlaw Maxwell, a medical missionary, donated a small printing press to the church in 1880, but at the time nobody in Tainan knew how to operate it.

In 1881 while on furlough in Glasgowmarker, Thomas Barclay studied printing techniques, and on his return to Tainan he sent others for printing training and set up a machine shop, which started printing in 1884. Then in June 1885 came the first issue of the Tâi-oân-hú-siâⁿ Kàu-hōe-pò (Tainan Church News), which thus became the first printed newspaper in Taiwan.

The newspaper was just one of the products of the new press, and William Campbell was later able to proudly write that "our Taiwan Mission Press turned out 700,357 pages, chiefly in the dialect or brogue of South Formosa during 1913". In 1915 the newspaper was reported as having a circulation of roughly 1,600.

World War II to the present

In 1942 after Japanmarker and the United Statesmarker declared war on each other, the missionaries were expelled from Taiwan, which was at the time a Japanese colony, and the press was closed. After the defeat of Japan and the takeover by the Kuomintang, the Taiwan Church News resumed publication. However, in 1969 the printing of the Taiwan Church News in Pe̍h-ōe-jī was banned by the Kuomintang government of the time, who were taking action to restrict the use of local languages.

From that point on, the publication appeared in Mandarin Chinese characters, and even after the restrictions were lifted in the 1980s, Mandarin continued to be the dominant language, with "native languages" (Taiwanese Hokkien, Hakka and Formosan languages) confined to a "Mother Tongue Section" from 1991 onwards. On several occasions the magazine was confiscated by the authorities for running articles on forbidden topics, such as a discussion of the 228 Incident which saw the entire print run of 6,700 copies seized in 1987.

The modern incarnation of the periodical takes the form of a weekly magazine, plus ad hoc English reports on the organization's website.

Notes

  1. Lin
  2. At the time Tainan was known as the Fùchéng, or prefectural city.
  3. Copper 240.
  4. Campbell 362.
  5. Oldham 624.
  6. Klöter 217.
  7. Taiwan Communiqué

References




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