Starting in the fall, 73 private universities and vocational institutions in Taiwan will open their doors to about 2,000 Chinese students. If everything goes smoothly, the nation’s 50 public universities could also be opened to Chinese students from next March.
According to reports, about 1,000 Chinese students, including about 20 from Beijing, have applied since April 1, with the application period closing at the end of this month.
Interestingly, it takes more than good grades and curiosity for a Chinese student to be allowed to cross the Taiwan Strait. One, it seems, must also qualify for what is known as a “high political awareness certificate.”
This certificate does not constitute proof of an individual’s knowledge of major political events or world capitals, but is rather an instrument to ensure students (and their families) have an ideological background agreeable to the Chinese Communist Party (CCP).
What this means for Taiwan is that only fully indoctrinated students will be allowed to come here, greatly reducing the chance that their experiences in Taiwan will generate the kind of dialogue and understanding proponents of the program have suggested would develop as a result. The near certainty that Chinese students will retain their preconceived views on Taiwan is compounded by the fact that at present, the Taiwanese government will only give them a six-month student visa, meaning that any student who wishes to study for longer must return to China and reapply.
There should be no doubt, either, that despite the cultural and geographical proximity, China’s very best young minds or the children of senior party members will not be coming to Taiwan. They will continue to go to Europe and the US, whose diplomas have a higher market value.
What Taiwan will end up with, therefore, are mostly second-tier students who nevertheless toe the party line, students who are unlikely to be able to make any meaningful contribution to Taiwan’s educational environment. This is hardly the way to make Taiwan’s universities more competitive and attractive, both locally and globally. It could, in fact, have the very opposite effect.
Beyond this, highly ideological young minds that refuse to be changed by their new environment are perfect instruments for the state that sends them. Under what looks strangely like a reward-payback mechanism — whereby the state rewards “good” party members by sending them abroad while expecting something in return — we can assume that some of the 2,000 or so Chinese students who will enter our schools in the fall will be collecting information for the Chinese government. In other words, they will be doing exactly what Soviet students were doing during the Cold War.
It is interesting that whenever Beijing accuses those in the US or Taiwan who call for cautious engagement of overreacting to China’s rise, it often points to the other side’s “Cold War” mentality. Ironically, by using devices such as the “high political awareness certificates” for the dispatch of students in a time of alleged peacemaking, it is Beijing that cannot seem to let go of practices that fell out of favor decades ago.
On many fronts, China is still fighting a Cold War, and the proximate battlefield is Taiwan. Soldiers, diplomats and spies, investors and businesspeople, are all expected to play their part in this grand ideological battle. Students too, it would seem.
In September 2013, the armed wing of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) quietly released an internal document entitled, “Coursebook on the Military Geography of the Taiwan Strait.” This sensitive, “military-use-only” coursebook explains why it is strategically vital that China “reunify” (annex) Taiwan. It then methodically analyzes various locations of interest to People’s Liberation Army (PLA) war planners. The coursebook highlights one future battlefield in particular: Fulong Beach, in New Taipei City’s Gongliao District, which it describes as “3,000 meters long, flat, and straight,” and located at “the head of Taiwan.” A black and white picture of Fulong’s sandy coastline occupies the
Early last month, China’s rubber-stamp legislature, the National People’s Congress (NPC), officially approved the country’s 14th Five-Year Plan. The strategy was supposed to demonstrate that China has a long-term economic vision that would enable it to thrive, despite its geopolitical contest with the US. However, before the ink on the NPC’s stamp could dry, China had already begun sabotaging the plan’s chances of success. The new plan’s centerpiece is the “dual-circulation” strategy, according to which China would aim to foster growth based on domestic demand and technological self-sufficiency. This would not only reduce China’s reliance on external demand; it would also
Interrupting the assimilation of Xinjiang’s Uighur population would result in an unmanageable national security threat to China. Numerous governments and civil society organizations around the world have accused China of massive human rights abuses in Xinjiang, and labeled Beijing’s inhumane and aggressive social re-engineering efforts in the region as “cultural genocide.” Extensive evidence shows that China’s forceful ethnic assimilation policies in Xinjiang are aimed at replacing Uighur ethnic and religious identity with a so-called scientific communist dogma and Han Chinese culture. The total assimilation of Uighurs into the larger “Chinese family” is also Beijing’s official, central purpose of its ethnic policies
In studies of Taiwan’s demographic changes, the Institute of Sociology at Academia Sinica has found that a mere 36.5 percent of men and 19.6 percent of women think getting married is an important life event. The institute also found that the government spending money or amending laws and regulations in order to encourage families to have children is having no impact on the birthrate. Opinions differ on whether this kind of change is a matter of national security, as Japan faces a similar situation, without having a negative impact on its economic strength. Fewer women are willing to marry and the divorce