A school exchange trip to China was cover for a Chinese indoctrination program, Miaoli County Councilor Lo Kuei-hsing (羅貴星) and Democratic Progressive Party Legislator Huang Kuo-shu (黃國書) said yesterday after more than 100 students and teachers returned to Taiwan following an extended stay in China’s Fujian Province due to inclement weather.
Parents of students from Tongsiao Junior High School in the county were working to arrange alternative travel home for their children, who were on an “education and sports exchange” in China, after their planned return via ferry was canceled due to inclement weather, Lo said, adding that the parents discovered that the group had been exposed to “Chinese propaganda” and “political indoctrination.”
The group of mostly baseball and softball players was staying in Pingtan County, but parents discovered that they were targets of the Chinese Communist Party’s Department of United Front Work and its provincial authorities, Lo said.
Photo: Liao Chen-huei, Taipei Times
“They paid only NT$1,000 each for the trip to cover registration and administrative fees,” Huang said. “The rest of their expenses, including ferry tickets, insurance, local transportation, accommodation and meals, were covered by the Chinese side.”
School officials told parents that the group was to go on a sports exchange, while a Taiwanese businessman working in China was listed as a sponsor of the trip, Huang said.
However, the businessman’s listing was a deception, as the trip was sponsored and organized by an agency of the Fujian Provincial Government, he said.
“Chinese authorities funded all the expenses and made all the arrangements,” Lo said. “After arriving, the group was taken on tours of modern buildings and development projects in Pingtan.”
The trip was to showcase the “new face of China” and to tout its “glorious achievements” to brainwash young Taiwanese into embracing unification with China, he said.
“We want to know why a sports trip turned into a Chinese propaganda and indoctrination program,” Huang said.
“Why did Miaoli County officials not grant permission for the trip, but the schools ignored it and went ahead on the all-expenses paid junket?” he asked. “Were the Ministry of Education and the Mainland Affairs Council not aware of indoctrination targeting our students?”
The group consisted of 92 students, nine teachers and several parents. They departed on Thursday last week, taking advantage of the long holiday weekend, sailing on the Hai Xia Hao from Taichung Port to the Port of Pingtan.
However, their planned return on Monday was canceled due to high winds and waves, Lo said.
They returned to Taiwan last night after arrangements by transportation officials saw them travel from Fujian’s Xiamen City by ferry to Kinmen County, where they boarded a flight to Taiwan, Lo said.
Council Deputy Minister Chiu Chui-cheng (邱垂正) said that China has been luring young Taiwanese and using cultural exchanges to conceal its “united front” tactics.
The council and the ministry would discuss whether a reporting mechanism for schools visiting China for educational exchanges should be established to ensure the safety of students and faculty while allowing healthy cross-strait exchanges to proceed, Chiu said.
Additional reporting by Chung Li-hua
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