Thu, Mar 09, 2017 - Page 1 News List

Ministry divided over university pacts with China

‘ONE CHINA’?The ministry cannot say how many universities have signed agreements with China until it finishes its probe, Pan Wen-chung said

By Jake Chung  /  Staff writer, with CNA

Minister of Education Pan Wen-chung yesterday tells reporters in Taipei that he does not know how many universities have signed letters of agreement with Chinese institutions promising not to tackle politically sensitive topics in courses offered to Chinese students.

Photo: Lin Hsiao-yun, Taipei Times

At least 30 percent of the nation’s universities have signed letters of agreement with Chinese institutions promising not to include politically sensitive topics in courses offered to Chinese students, Deputy Minister of Education Yao Leeh-ter (姚立德) told lawmakers yesterday.

Yao’s statement left Minister of Education Pan Wen-chung (潘文忠) scrambling to clarify that the ministry has yet to finish its investigation and provide a definitive figure.

Yao was answering a question from Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator Lee Yan-hsiu (李彥秀) at a meeting of the legislature’s Social Welfare and Environmental Hygiene Committee.

“Although the results of the ministry’s probe have not yet been released, based on my understanding, more than 30 percent of universities have signed such an agreement, but National Taipei University of Technology is not one of them,” Yao said.

Yao is a former president of National Taipei University of Technology. He assumed the post of deputy minister on Monday.

The incident stemmed from leaked documents from Shih Hsin University on Thursday last week, which showed that the university promised that politically sensitive topics, such as “one China, one Taiwan,” “two Chinas” and Taiwanese independence, would not be covered in courses offered to Chinese students.

Lee asked Yao whether signing such letters would be a violation of Article 33-3 of the Act Governing Relations Between the People of the Taiwan Area and the Mainland Area (兩岸人民關係條例).

Lee said the incident has caused friction on campus and that such issues must be dealt with immediately as exchanges with foreign universities are an important facet of a private institute’s operations.

“The letters come in different forms, but some of them did” violate the article, Yao said, adding that the ministry has always encouraged academic exchanges on the condition of equality and dignity.

The article requires education institutes seeking coalitions or engaging in any cooperative activity requiring a written agreement with a Chinese education provider to inform the Ministry of Education in advance.

However, Pan said the ministry could not provide a figure, as the deadline for universities to submit their responses to the ministry has been extended to today.

Pan said the delay in the conclusion of the probe was due to a change in the format of the forms the ministry asked universities to fill out on Tuesday.

Reports of letters of agreements with Chinese institutes are seen by some legislators as a silent capitulation to Beijing’s “one China” principle and Beijing’s stance that it could use force to maintain its claims.

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