Wed, Jul 28, 2004 - Page 3 News List

MAC to consider letting Chinese study in Taiwan

By Joy Su  /  STAFF REPORTER

Restrictions barring Chinese students from enrolling at Taiwanese colleges could be lifted, pending further research into the matter, the nation's top cross-strait policymaker said yesterday.

However, Mainland Affairs Council (MAC) officials were quick to equivocate on the issue, stressing that the policy was still being deliberated and that no timeframe had yet been set for its implementation.

During the 11th Congress of the Asian Federation of Taiwan Chambers of Commerce in Kaohsiung yesterday, MAC Chairman Joseph Wu (吳釗燮) said that allowing Chinese students to enroll in Taiwanese colleges would be a gesture of goodwill towards China despite cross-strait tension.

"President Chen Shui-bian [陳水扁] said in his inauguration address on May 20 that in order to ensure lasting peace across the Taiwan Strait, he would not rule out the development of any form of cross-strait exchange. In addition, the Democratic Progressive Party's [DPP] guiding principle on cross-strait issues points out three stages involved in developing cross-strait relations: good will and reconciliation, vigorous cooperation and permanent peace," Wu said.

As cross strait economic and civil exchanges become more common, MAC will also relax rules to promote cross-strait exchanges," Wu added.

However, MAC officials pointed to the difficulties that the new policy posed, saying that it would involve cooperation from other agencies, such as the Ministry of Education.

"This policy touches upon so many different issues. For example, if these students are to stay in Taiwan for over a year, there is the question of whether national health insurance should be extended to them. Also, as college is a four year program, we need to consider whether these students can work in Taiwan," MAC Department of Cultural and Educational Affairs Director Chen Huei-ying (陳會英) said. The policy could only take force after supplementary policies are in place, Chen said.

With regards to when the policy could be enacted, Chen responded that the council was "taking it one step at a time."

Despite the difficulties involved, there are precedents for cross-strait educational exchange. Two years ago, the MAC authorized the establishment of Taiwan-based continuing education programs in China. In addition, several Chinese students have been allowed to perform graduate-level research in Taiwan for periods of several months.

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