Tue, May 01, 2018 - Page 1 News List

China sending more agents: official

ACADEMIC FREEDOM?Officials suspect China is sending illegal recruiters who are overlooked among the mass of applicants, while schools are refusing to give information

By Chung Li-hua and Jonathan Chin  /  Staff reporter, with staff writer

China is stepping up efforts to attract Taiwanese professionals by sending officials and representatives to universities under the guise of academic exchanges and start-ups, an official said.

China’s Taiwan Affairs Office (TAO) has ordered various groups representing Chinese interests to organize jobs fairs at Taiwanese universities, a national security official said on condition of anonymity.

The events are to be held at the end of the academic year, when graduates begin looking for jobs, as an extension of the so-called “31 incentives” Beijing announced in February, the official said.

The Shanghai Association of Taiwan is early next month to hold an event in Taipei, while the Xiamen Association of Taiwan is believed to be organizing another event for August, the official said, adding that since February, applications by Chinese to visit Taiwan have increased significantly, with most requesting permission to attend academic conferences or exchanges.

Although the Ministry of the Interior has rejected many suspicious applications, efforts to examine all of the requests in detail have been complicated by their sheer number, the official said.

Chinese in Taiwan are prohibited from seeking employees or distributing literature advertising employment opportunities, the Mainland Affairs Council said, citing the Act Governing Relations Between the People of the Taiwan Area and the Mainland Area (臺灣地區與大陸地區人民關係條例).

Job fairs that plan to advertise employment opportunities in Chinese firms and TAO personnel wishing to enter the nation must first obtain government approval, it said, adding that the council has not yet received any such applications.

However, the official said there are reasons to believe that many Chinese groups are lying about their representatives’ itineraries, clandestinely distributing literature advertising employment in China and facilitating the illegal entry of TAO officials.

Universities have, citing the need to protect academic freedom, rebuffed requests for information on exchange programs from the National Immigration Agency and national security agencies, the official said.

“Those arguments, coming from the same schools that allow TAO officials to run wild, are extremely self-contradictory and absurd,” the official said.

As many China-based Taiwanese business associations are directly controlled by TAO officials, it is reasonable to believe that their job fairs are designed to facilitate the TAO’s policy of systematically absorbing Taiwanese professionals, the official said.

The government is investigating the possibility that event organizers have received funding from Beijing and are conducing the events on its behalf, the official added.

The TAO has also sponsored 53 so-called “cross-strait youth start-up campuses” to promote its efforts targeting young Taiwanese.

The TAO-run taiwan.cn says the Nanjing-based campus is working with 13 Taiwanese colleges and universities, while the Kunshan-based campus is working with nine and the Xiamen-based campus has signed agreements with several schools, including Hsiuping University of Science and Technology, Feng Chia University and National Kaohsiung University of Applied Sciences.

Sources said that some of the universities and colleges involved in the programs have failed to seek prior approval from the Ministry of Education.

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