As the Ministry of Education and the pan-blue camp wrangle over wording in textbooks, President Chen Shui-bian (
Taiwan has much to gain by reversing this policy.
Fear that exposure to Chinese education and students will corrupt Taiwanese students' minds is a driving force behind the policy. But if the Taiwanese education system is turning out such feeble-minded adults susceptible to Chinese propaganda, then it has only itself to blame. Education should be about opening minds and exposing students to different ideas -- even ideas government officials may not agree with. Sheltering Taiwanese students from certain ideas smacks of Chinese censorship.
Chinese students may influence Taiwan, but certainly not as much as Taiwan will influence them. Every year the ministry gives out thousands of scholarships to students from around the world in the hope that they will become advocates for Taiwan after they return to their countries. Is it difficult to imagine that some Chinese students, having seen what a progressive, liberal society is like, would go back and not demand the same.
Chen's rationale for refusing Chinese diplomas is also irrational. He worries that because it is so easy and cheap to get a Chinese diploma, Taiwan will soon be flooded with PhDs from disreputable Chinese institutions. Hence, having an advanced degree would no longer mean anything, and Taiwanese professors would find themselves out of work.
However, China does not hold a monopoly on dodgy diplomas. A great number of the degrees offered in the US, the holy grail of education for many Taiwanese students, are nothing more than cash-cow programs in soft subjects aimed at foreign students.
A degree is not automatically good because it is from the US or bad because it is from China. Rather, the government should encourage employers and universities to ascertain academic credentials. Businesses that do not bother to thoroughly evaluate who they are hiring will suffer from the frauds who walk through the door. Higher education must to some extent also abide by the rules of free-market capitalism.
Chinese degrees are not automatically rejected in other parts of the world. Chen's policy assures that students who can't afford an expensive Taiwanese degree, or simply want to go abroad and experience education in China, can't come back to work in Taiwan. As the Cabinet's Council for Economic Planning and Development debates how to attract skilled foreigners, Taiwan will contribute to its own brain drain by forcing students educated in China to find work elsewhere.
Taiwan has an interest in making sure that its ties with China are carefully regulated. But education is one area that should be more open. Chen's argument that letting in a trickle of students will inevitably end in a deluge is a pathetic excuse for the government's inability to efficiently regulate educational exchanges. And while the government must take security into account, paranoia over such issues should not outweigh the possible benefits of students on each side of the Strait contributing to more civil exchanges and understanding.
Who knows, Chinese students might even return home and tell their friends that Taiwan is a much different place than the Chinese media make it out to be.
Since COVID-19 broke out in Taiwan, there has been a fair amount of news regarding discrimination and “witch hunts” against medical personnel, people under self-quarantine and other targets, such as the students of a school where an infection was discovered. Quarantine breakers are almost certainly on the loose and it is only natural for people to be vigilant. One in Chiayi was found by accident at a traffic stop because his helmet was not fastened. However, those who follow the rules by quarantining themselves should be encouraged to keep up the good work in a difficult situation, instead of being
Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator-at-large Wu Sz-huai (吳斯懷) has said that there is a huge difference between Chinese military aircraft circling Taiwan along the edges of its airspace and invading Taiwan’s airspace. He also said that whether it is US or Chinese aircraft flying along or encircling Taiwan’s airspace, there is no legal basis to say that such actions imply a clear provocation of Taiwan, and asked the Ministry of National Defense not to mislead the public. People who hear this might think that it is not a very Taiwanese thing to say. US military activity in the vicinity of Taiwan
As the nation welcomes home Taiwanese who had been stranded in China’s Hubei Province — arguably one of the most dangerous places on Earth since the novel coronavirus outbreak began in its capital, Wuhan, late last year — problems surrounding the “quasi-charter flights” that brought them back have been largely overlooked. The media used the term to describe the two flights dispatched by Taiwan’s state-run China Airlines because they do not count as charter flights. Taiwanese wanting to board those flights had to travel — most likely by train — more than 1,000km from Hubei to Shanghai Pudong International Airport
As the COVID-19 pandemic spins out of control, many parts of the world are experiencing shortages of medical masks and other protective equipment. I am studying in Washington state, which at the time of writing is the US state that has suffered the largest number of deaths from the novel coronavirus. The week before last, UW Medicine — an organization that includes the University of Washington School of Medicine and associated medical centers and clinics — sent its volunteers an e-mail asking the public to make masks and donate them to hospitals. Attached to the message was a mask donation