|Students from NTU celebrate their graduation|
When the government announced a few years ago that it would open Taiwan’s universities to Chinese students, it had more than dropping university enrolment and the world’s lowest birth rate in mind — it also hoped to enhance sympathy for Taiwan among the future political leaders of China.
With about 1,000 Chinese undergraduate and graduate students having just completed their first academic year in Taiwan, the signs are for the most part encouraging. A report in the New York Times last month was replete with quotes of Chinese students’ laudatory comments about the kindness of Taiwanese, the less rigid educational system and political openness. A number of them candidly admitted they had paid close attention to the Jan. 14 presidential election, or had looked up information about the Tiananmen Massacre and the Cultural Revolution on the Web that is unavailable to them on China’s heavily censored Internet.
Some, who did not even request anonymity, went further, saying they felt it was their responsibility to bring back what they had learned in Taiwan to help change their country.
This is all promising, were it not for one thing: The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) does not want political change to occur in China, as its leaders firmly believe that the party alone has the legitimacy and ability to guide China’s development toward a bright future. To keep tabs on potentially troublesome returnees, China appears to be relying on what are known as ‘professional students.’
My op-ed, published today in the Taipei Times, continues here.