Wed, Apr 04, 2018 - Page 8 News List

The threat posed by a Chinese education

By Hsu Hsiao-wen 徐曉雯

An increasing number of Taiwanese academics, especially those with a doctorate, have been employed in China in recent years, and I have frequently been invited to work there, but the outflow of such people is a threat to Taiwan’s national security.

It has to be clarified that this is a policy adopted to make China strong, instead of a policy favorable to Taiwanese. Prestigious Chinese schools — such as Peking University and Tsinghua University — are not inferior to Taiwanese universities in terms of teacher quality.

However, it is a different story outside highly developed areas. Due to the decade-long Cultural Revolution, the number of professors and lecturers is woefully inadequate and very few have doctorates. The quality of education cannot but be low under such circumstances.

“The purpose of China using Taiwanese talent is to lift the academic level of the massive number of Chinese students, as well as the cultural level of Chinese people; who still spit on the floor and not close the bathroom door,” a friend who recently had a job interview in China said.

As for the large number of “overseas Chinese returnees,” as one a friend studying abroad, said: All Chinese students who study abroad are the children of the rich. They mostly study for a bachelor’s or master’s and then return to China to enjoy fame and fortune; they seldom work toward a doctorate abroad.

Since not many of these returnees hold a doctorate, China must try to attract talent from Taiwan.

One should not expect to make money teaching in China. It is looking for young academics — under 45 — and people are typically offered a three-year contract with a modest salary.

Obtaining a national research project is a different matter. That is where the money is. The purpose is to lift the academic level of China by luring young academics to work hard.

Importantly people who have a certain attitude toward national identity should not work in China. There are Chinese Communist Party (CCP) chapters and secretaries in every university and they monitor what is taught and said in personal interactions.

As the Chinese economy continues to grow, arrogant and imperious “rich kids” might show their hostility toward and depreciation of Taiwanese. Teaching in a negative atmosphere like this, if you accidentally comment on the Taiwan or China issue, you could easily be labeled a “black sheep.”

Even if you are willing to surrender your principles for a higher salary, China is likely to shut the door. Taiwanese artists serve as good examples of this. Do not ever imagine that academic freedom is available in China.

China has launched its grand tactic to attract Taiwanese academics to improve its student quality and academic standards. With the advantage of the same language and ethnicity, Beijing can achieve its goal of building power through education by offering minor benefits to Taiwanese. Taiwan would lose all its advantages if China can achieve this goal.

However, the Ministry of Education does not appear to be prepared to treat this as the national security threat that it is.

Hsu Hsiao-wen is an associate professor in the Department of Applied English at Kainan University.

Translated by Eddy Chang

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