Fri, May 10, 2019 - Page 1 News List

China-linked exchanges are illegal

‘UNITED FRONT’:Schools with ties to Communist Youth League academies or that have sent interns to Chinese state-run media must correct the situation or face a fine

By Rachel Lin, Lee Hsin-fang and Sherry Hsiao  /  Staff reporters, with staff writer

Deputy Minister of Education Fan Sun-lu participates in a news conference at the Executive Yuan in Taipei yesterday.

Photo: Lee Hsin-fang, Taipei Times

The Ministry of Education yesterday proclaimed academic and cultural exchanges by students and teachers with Chinese Communist Party-affiliated institutions a breach of the Act Governing Relations Between the People of the Taiwan Area and the Mainland Area (台灣地區與大陸地區人民關係條例) punishable by a NT$500,000 (US$16,152) fine.

Officials discovered that some schools have become sister schools with Communist Youth League academies, while others have sent interns to China’s state-run China Central Television and the People’s Daily, Department of International and Cross-strait Education Director-General Lai Hsin-jen (賴信任) said.

The ministry has asked the schools to correct the situation and vowed to impose a fine if the infractions persist, Lai said.

The ministry also plans to meet with the Mainland Affairs Council and schools to discuss China’s “united front” tactics targeting teachers in the areas of culture and education, Deputy Minister of Education Fan Sun-lu (范巽綠) said.

The problem is “very complicated,” Fan told a news conference in Taipei after an Executive Yuan meeting.

The ministry is to meet with the council regularly to discuss the latest developments and actions by China that are “clearly ‘united front’ tactics,” as well as other sensitive topics, she said.

The ministry would try to gain a better understanding of the overall state of exchanges between Chinese and Taiwanese schools, teachers and students, Fan said, adding that it would later discuss the matter with schools.

She said she believes that schools, universities and colleges have the same level of vigilance as the government, and understand that cultural and educational “united front” tactics are not the same as academic exchanges and need to differentiate between the two.

Asked whether Taiwanese teachers would be allowed to accept invitations to visit China on trips whose expenses excluding airfare would be covered by local organizers, Fan said that the matter would need to be discussed with the council, because the government would need to get a grasp on the circumstances of such a visit.

The question was likely a reference to reports that the Zhonghua Cultural Relics Exchange Association and the Shaanxi Province Cultural Relics Exchange Association had asked Taipei-based Sheen Chuen-Chi Cultural and Educational Foundation to co-organize a “Zhonghua history and culture workshop” in China’s Shaanxi and Gansu provinces.

Taiwanese high-school Chinese-language and history teachers were reportedly invited to give lectures and participate in discussions at the workshop, which is to start on July 2 and end on July 9.

The trip would also include visits to tourist attractions, such as the Shaanxi History Museum, anonymous sources said.

Teachers would only need to pay NT$18,000 for the airfare, as well as a NT$5,000 administrative fee, the source said, adding that the Chinese organizers would cover their accommodation, food and transportation expenses.

According to information obtained by the council, Chinese National Cultural Heritage Administration Director Liu Yuzhu (劉玉珠) also serves as the president of the Zhonghua Cultural Relics Exchange Association.

Under such circumstances, it would be inappropriate for Taiwanese teachers to accept an invitation, a national security official said on condition of anonymity.

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