China urged to continue student exchanges with Taiwan

Taipei--Education Minister Pan Wen-chung (???) urged the Chinese education authorities Wednesday to continue support for exchanges of students between the two sides of the Taiwan Strait, despite the cooling since last year of cross-strait relations.

"The governments on each side of the strait should continue to support exchanges of young people," Pan said.

He was responding to media questions about allegations that the Chinese education authorities have notified students accepted by Taiwanese colleges or universities that they should think carefully about whether or not to study in Taiwan at the time when the cross-strait climate is "strained, complicated and sensitive."

When Chinese students come to Taiwan, Pan said, they come to learn and make new friends, and mostly do not care much about politics.

He expressed the wish that the two sides can jointly support the exchanges of their young people and prevent such exchanges from suffering political interference.

Bi Tzu-an (???), head of the ministry's Department of International and Cross-strait Education Affairs, said a few days ago when asked about the allegations that he believes the notification was from individual provincial or city governments or schools, rather than an official order from Beijing.

Nevertheless, the ministry will still repeatedly ask the Chinese education authorities to stop such notifications, Bi said.

Taiwan's higher education sector will continue to offer Chinese students high-quality educational resources, Pan promised.

The total number of Chinese students visiting Taiwan to study increased this year, Pan said, elaborating that this year, although the number of Chinese students coming to study at college or university dropped slightly, the number coming to study at graduate institutes increased.

In general, the number of Chinese students this year is similar to those of previous years, the minister said.

Cross-strait ties have cooled since President Tsai Ing-wen (???) took office in May 2016, mainly due to her refusal to heed Beijing's calls to accept the "1992 consensus" as the sole political foundation of cross-strait exchanges.

The "1992 consensus" refers to a tacit understanding reached in 1992 between China and Taiwan, which was then under a Kuomintang government, that there is only one China, with both sides free to interpret what that means.

Source: Focus Taiwan News Channel