Opposition lawmakers and academics on Tuesday voiced concerns over the Ministry of Education’s decision to increase the number of People’s Republic of China (PRC) universities accredited in Taiwan, saying the move underscored China’s effort to encroach on the nation through cultural and educational means.
The ministry announced the new plan at about 6pm on Tuesday, several hours before the University Entrance Committee for Mainland Chinese Students was scheduled to release yesterday morning postgraduate and doctoral admission brochures for Chinese students hoping to study in Taiwan in the coming academic year.
Under the new plan, the number of Chinese universities accredited in Taiwan will be expanded from the current 41 institutions, most of which are included in China’s “Project 985,” to 111 schools covered by China’s “Project 211.” Chinese students who entered the additional 70 schools after Sept. 3, 2010, would qualify to study in Taiwan.
“Project 985” is an educational scheme announced in 1998 by then-Chinese president Jiang Zemin (江澤民) that aims to facilitate the development of selected Chinese colleges, while “Project 211” was initiated in 1995 to strengthen about 100 colleges.
The new plan will exclude Chinese universities specializing in military, medicine and public security and will retain a restriction that allows only students who hold a household registration in China’s six coastal provinces — including Beijing, Shanghai, Jiangsu, Zhejiang, Fujian and Guangdong — to pursue education in Taiwan.
It will also adhere to the “three limits, six noes” (三限六不) policy imposed on Chinese students studying in Taiwan to protect local students’ educational and job opportunities.
Under the “three limits, six noes” policy, acceptance is limited to Chinese students from prestigious Chinese schools, the number of Chinese students is restricted to 0.1 percent of total domestic student recruitment and Chinese students are barred from courses in pharmacy, Chinese and Western medicine, high-tech fields and national security.
The “six noes” refer to no preferential grading on entrance exams, no effect on student enrollment opportunities for Taiwanese students, no scholarships, no off-campus work and no taking of tests for Taiwanese professional certificates or civil servant examinations.
Deputy Minister of Education Huang Pi-twan (黃碧端) lauded the new plan, saying it would attract more outstanding Chinese students and help address issues regarding the educational rights of Chinese spouses of Taiwanese or children of China-based Taiwanese businesspeople.
However, the new policy prompted criticism from opposition lawmakers and academics, as well as concerns about China’s growing incursion into Taiwan.
Democratic Progressive Party Legislator Lin Chia-lung (林佳龍) said the timing of the announcement of the new plan showed Minister of Education Chiang Wei-ling (蔣偉寧) was attempting to evade legislative scrutiny.
“Chiang’s move to announce the new policy, along with another one late last month that allows Chinese students to enroll at two-year colleges, prior to lawmakers’ interpellations at meetings of the legislature’s Education and Culture Committee indicates that the minister is purposely shunning legislative scrutiny,” Lin said.
Saying that cross-strait exchanges should be conducted without jeopardizing the interests and rights of Taiwanese, Lin called on the ministry to make public all information pertaining to the new policy and deliver a report to the Education and Culture Committee.
“If anything about the policy risks putting Taiwanese students’ rights at stake, I will never be finished with the ministry,” Lin said.
Shih Cheng-feng (施正鋒), a political commentator from National Tunghua University, said China’s encroachment on the nation was like carbon monoxide poisoning, both of which occurred without people knowing.
“Because the concerted effort between President Ma Ying-jeou’s (馬英九) administration and China [to bring Taiwan into its fold] by military threats and economic benefits was to no avail, they will most likely seek to reach their objective this time via cultural and educational [exchanges],” Shih said.