Tue, May 14, 2019 - Page 1 News List

Student leader warns on China tours

‘UNITED FRONT’:A bookstore near NTU is co-organizing a low-cost 11-day trip to China, sparking concern that it could be another Chinese tactic to lure young people

By Wu Po-hsuan, Huang Pei-chun and Sherry Hsiao  /  Staff reporters, with staff writer

The main gate of National Taiwan University is pictured in Taipei on Sept. 5, 2011.

Photo: Lin Cheng-kung, Taipei Times

National Taiwan University (NTU) Student Association president Michelle Wu (吳奕柔) yesterday said students should be alert to China’s “united front” tactics after a report that a bookstore is cohosting a low-cost trip to China.

The Lines of Flight bookstore, which specializes in books imported from China, is co-organizing an 11-day trip to China with stops in Beijing, Chongqing and the Three Gorges region, an anonymous NTU student said.

The trip, which is scheduled for July 1 to July 11, targets 18 to 35-year-olds, and costs NT$16,500, including airfare, transportation within China, room and board, the source said.

Visitors would also meet Taiwanese businesspeople in China, and participate in discussions with local schools and entrepreneurship centers, the source said.

The trip stands out because it is being organized by a bookstore near NTU, the source said, adding that Lines of Flight promoted the trip through its membership database.

Some of their classmates suspect that the trip might be part of China’s “united front” tactics, the source added.

Wu said she did not know whether any NTU students had signed up for the trip, but its low cost does make it attractive to students.

Still, students should pay attention to whether there is a “united front” goal behind the trip, she said.

Lines of Flight bookstore manager Wang Yung (王永) said the trip is a regular exchange between Taiwan and China.

People can decide whether they want to join the trip after taking a look at the itinerary, he said, adding that they do not have to go if they are not interested.

The trip is not being subsidized and members of the tour would be paying for it themselves, he said, adding that a travel agency was asked to plan the trip.

He was tasked with organizing the trip by the Alliance for the Reunification of China, of which he is a member, he said, adding that the alliance is cohosting the trip with the All-China Federation of Taiwan Compatriots.

This is the first time he is co-organizing the trip, but to his knowledge, it has already been held 16 times, he said.

The news comes after reports by NTU students that they received e-mails from NTU’s College of Bioresources and Agriculture last week promoting an event between the college and its sister schools in China with a poster that read: “same root, same source.”

Although the so-called “united front tours” recruit participants through cultural and exchange foundations in Taiwan, after visitors land in China, the liaising window is almost always a local branch of China’s Taiwan Affairs Office, said an anonymous graduate student from National Tsing Hua University who has participated in such a tour.

The itineraries always include events to promote policies such as the Belt and Road Initiative or helping Taiwanese students start businesses in China, the source said, adding that organizers arrange for Chinese students to take part in the trip.

Through social interactions, the trips try to make students feel like the two sides of the Taiwan Strait are “one family” and that the Chinese government is full of good intentions, the student said.

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