Mon, Nov 20, 2017 - Page 3 News List

Taiwan seeking balance in cross-strait exchanges

A STEP TOO FAR:As China cuts the number of students it allows to come to Taiwan, universities have proposed sending teachers over, but authorities rejected the plan

By Chung Li-hua  /  Staff reporter

In response to Beijing’s attempt to assimilate Taiwanese students while restricting the number of Chinese students studying in Taiwan, the government has rejected academic exchange programs that would result in an outflow of Taiwanese academics to China, officials said.

Since the Democratic Progressive Party administration took office in May last year, Beijing has restricted the number of Chinese students and tourists visiting Taiwan while offering preferential treatment to Taiwanese students in the areas of education and work to assimilate them.

While Beijing has limited the number of full-degree students it allows to study in Taiwan, it has also reduced the number of short-term exchange students.

In China’s Fujian Province alone, the approved number of exchanges to Taiwan was 6,800 three years ago, but was reduced to 3,400 people last year and further reduced to 2,000 this year.

Short-term exchange programs between Taiwanese and Chinese universities commonly adopt a “three plus one” module, with Chinese students studying at a Chinese university for three years and at a Taiwanese university for one year.

However, some private universities in Taiwan, in response to Beijing’s latest restrictions on Taiwan-bound students, have proposed “four plus zero” exchange programs, in which Chinese students would spend the full four-years at a Chinese university where visiting academics from the partner university in Taiwan will be teaching classes.

The “four plus zero” program would allow Taiwanese universities to reduce personnel costs, as Chinese universities would be responsible for visiting academics’ remuneration.

Four private universities, including Hsinchu-based Chung Hua University, have proposed such “four plus zero” programs, but the Ministry of Education has rejected the proposals, Department of International and Cross-strait Education Director-General Bi Tzu-an (畢祖安) said.

The universities have been asked to reconsider their proposals, as cross-strait educational exchange should be based on exchange of student instead of a unilateral outflow of Taiwanese academics to China, Bi said.

China’s Taiwan Affairs Office on Nov. 8 reiterated three kinds of preferential treatment offered to Taiwanese planning to study in China: Taiwanese high-school graduates who score an average percentile rank in Taiwan’s college entrance exams can apply to a Chinese university; Taiwanese graduates with a Chinese degree who want to pursue a career in China will be given employment permits; and Taiwanese students are entitled to a special scholarship if they acknowledge the “one China” principle.

There are about 11,000 Taiwanese studying in China and the number is increasing by about 2,000 annually, ministry officials said, adding that the effectiveness of Beijing’s three new benefits for Taiwanese cannot be understood until the next academic year.

Cross-strait exchanges have tilted disproportionately amid an increase in Taiwanese academics and officials being denied entry into China, officials said.

The government is continually reviewing the nation’s exchanges with China and will investigate suspicious visits, such as Chinese officials who visit under false identities, have a history of human rights violations, participate in politically sensitive events or are invited by certain groups, officials said.

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