Sun, Sep 22, 2019 - Page 3 News List

Diplomatic Losses: Kiribati students face uncertainty after ties severed

CHAIN OF COMMAND:Education officials said the foreign ministry was in charge. The foreign ministry said it would ask schools to help students

Staff writer, with CNA

Kiribatian students speak at a news conference at the Southern Taiwan University of Technology and Science on Friday.

Photo provided by Southern Taiwan University of Technology and Science via CNA

More than 100 Kiribatian students studying in Taiwan, 50 of them on government scholarships, are facing an uncertain future after diplomatic relations with the Pacific nation ended on Friday.

Taipei on Friday announced that it was cutting diplomatic ties with Kiribati, which had announced that it was switching allegiance to Beijing.

Kiribati was the second diplomatic ally lost to China this week after the Solomon Islands made the same decision on Monday.

There are 110 students from Kiribati studying in Taiwan, with 50 of them on scholarships provided by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Ministry of Education said.

Education officials said that they would respect whatever decision the foreign ministry made over what to do with the scholarships, while the foreign ministry said it would ask the students’ institutions to assist the students.

Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokeswoman Joanne Ou (歐江安) said that her ministry was discussing options, with a decision expected in the next few days.

As a general practice, Taiwan would stop granting scholarships to students from countries that sever ties, Ou said.

On Tuesday, one day after the Solomon Islands cut ties, Ou said that the government would continue to provide scholarships to Solomon Islands students, but only until the end of the semester.

There are about 20 students from Kiribati studying at Tamkang University.

University officials said that the fate of those students depends largely on arrangements by the Kiribatian government.

However, if the students opt to finish their studies in Taiwan, the university’s administration is willing to help them get discounts on tuition and other fees, university officials said.

At Southern Taiwan University of Science and Technology, where 15 Kiribatian students are enrolled, eight of them are recipients of full scholarships, one was granted a half scholarship and six are studying there at their own expense.

Many Kiribatian students went to the university’s office to ask about their future after hearing the news that diplomatic ties had been severed, a university official said, adding that it would take care of the students if they stay.

A Kiribatian student said that she felt sad upon hearing the diplomatic news, but the only thing she and her compatriots can do is wait for instructions from the Kiribati embassy.

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