Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Legislator Wang Ting-yu (王定宇) yesterday called on the Overseas Community Affairs Council to promote Mandarin learning programs, as the US Department of State is pushing for such learning opportunities “outside of China.”
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Oct. 17 announced the launch of the Web site language.state.gov, including resources for more than 100 foreign languages, Wang said during a meeting of the legislature’s Foreign and National Defense Committee in Taipei.
In an op-ed published by Newsweek on Oct. 15, Pompeo identified Mandarin as one of the critical languages, citing the policy of US President Donald Trump’s administration to meet the challenges posed by Beijing’s expansive ambitions.
“Once opportunities to travel and study abroad resume, we plan to increase the number of Americans studying Mandarin outside of China — as well as the study of other critical languages through the State Department and other US government exchange programs,” he wrote.
The department is to “expand offerings in advanced Mandarin and increase the incentives for diplomats to pursue extra years of study,” he wrote.
Highlighting opportunities “outside of China” and the closure of Confucius Institutes across the US, Wang yesterday said the Web site’s front page features an image of Taipei 101, even though the program targets more than 100 languages and Taiwan is not a formal ally of the US.
The department’s gesture signals the potential for deeper cultural exchanges between Taiwan and the US, in addition to geopolitical and military cooperation, he said.
Asked about the program, council Minister Tung Chen-yuan (童振源), who assumed the post in May, said he had not been aware of the Web site, but would contact the American Institute in Taiwan to promote Mandarin learning resources at overseas schools.
The council should also promote Hoklo (also known as Taiwanese), Hakka and Aboriginal languages to be part of the department’s multilingual program, Wang said, urging the council to take account of available resources in a month.
Meanwhile, Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Chairman Johnny Chiang (江啟臣) urged Tung to highlight identification with the Republic of China (ROC).
Identification with the ROC is a sentiment shared by overseas compatriots, Chiang said, adding that he regretted Tung in his written report only highlighted expanding “Taiwan’s” influence.
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