Traditional Chinese characters refers to Traditional Chinese characters in any character set which does not contain newly created characters or character substitutions performed after 1946. It most commonly refers to characters in the standardized character sets of Taiwan, of Hong Kong, or in the Kangxi Dictionary. The modern shapes of traditional Traditional Chinese characters first appeared with the emergence of the clerical script during the Han Dynasty, and have been more or less stable since the 5th century (during the Southern and Northern Dynasties.) The retronym "traditional Traditional Chinese" is used to contrast traditional characters with Simplified Traditional Chinese characters, a standardized character set introduced by the government of the People's Republic of China on Mainland China in the 1950s.
Traditional Chinese characters are currently used in Taiwan (Republic of China), Hong Kong and Macau. They were also used in mainland China before the People's Republic of China simplified them in the 1950s and 1960s. In overseas Traditional Chinese communities other than Singapore and Malaysia, traditional characters were most commonly used, although the number of printed materials in simplified characters is growing in Australia, USA and Canada, targeting or created by new arrivals from mainland China. A large number of overseas Traditional Chinese online newspapers allow users to switch between both sets. In contrast, simplified Traditional Chinese characters are used in mainland China, Singapore and Malaysia in official publications. The debate on traditional and simplified Traditional Chinese characters has been a long-running issue among Traditional Chinese communities.
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