After coming here, we will rethink things and come up with some new ideas. For example, during this year’s presidential election, Chinese students in Taiwan got together and carried out virtual voting via Facebook. The result was that not everyone supported Ma. Many Chinese students supported Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) after they went and listened to the pledges of both camps. Tsai actually received more votes than Ma and this really surprised me.
TT: In your book, you mention the “three limits, six noes” (三限六不) policy and the negative effects this has had on Chinese students in Taiwan, as well as the differential treatment other foreign students receive here compared to Chinese students. What effect has this had on your studies? In the long term, how does this worry you?
FTF: Initially, I did not think this would cause a big problem and I though I could overcome any of the difficulties it did cause. After arriving, however, I realized the policy has some big effects. This is because we (Chinese students) are unable to take money from the Taiwanese government or be involved in anything to do with government money. So, we cannot get scholarships and are unable to participate in the research projects of many teachers. For many master’s and PhD students, the only way to gain any benefit in many scientific research projects is by taking part and becoming part of the research team. If the teacher is receiving money from the National Science Council, Chinese students can’t participate.
This begs the question of whether we will leave Taiwan with a positive impression and understanding and go back to China and promote the development of Taiwan and China, or whether we will leave Taiwan feeling sad and full of regret. These two things will affect what we do in the future. Also for this reason, I will not consider doing a PhD in Taiwan, because without the support of a scholarship, classes and your study environment will become terrible.
TT: Are there any plans to republish this book in China in the future? If there is any chance of it being republished in China, will you insist on the use of terms like the “Republic of China” and “President” in the book?
FTF: As far as the use of the “Republic of China” to refer to Taiwan goes, I have two ways of thinking. Firstly, even Taiwanese people have different opinions about whether the Republic of China and Taiwan mean the same thing, so I would most likely not use this term. Secondly, where I talk about history, I think I will respect history and use this term when referring to it in its historical context.
At the moment, there are plans to publish the book in China; however, this would involve large changes to the content. Because it would have to pass censorship, I do not know how things will turn out. I guess we would delete some of the more sensitive parts and the parts that introduce China and will focus more on introducing the way of life in Taiwan with a special emphasis on how to apply for schools in Taiwan.
TT: How do you view political issues like the independence/unification issue and that of “one country, two systems?” What different opinions have you seen toward these issues from Taiwanese and Chinese students?
FTF: I am often asked about the issue of independence and unification and this is something I have a lot of trouble with. I cannot accept Taiwanese independence, whether in terms of my feelings or my sense of identity. My friends are also unable to accept Taiwanese independence. As far as their feelings go, they have received two decades of education and the message coming from home and the greater environment is that one must recognize a unified China.