• Taiwan University Students

Taiwan University Students (Photo : Getty Images)

Minister Pan Wen-Chung announced on Monday that guidelines on handling pledges for Chinese students in Taiwan will be drafted by the Ministry of Education (MOE).

The guidelines will be used as a reference by Taiwanese universities to make sure that the principles of academic freedom, equality, and reciprocity will be followed.

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The plans presented by Pan focused on how to resolve the recent controversy in student exchange. Pledges have been signed by several schools in Taiwan. These schools will not teach subjects that condemn or refuse the “One China” policy, upon the appeals of Chinese exchange students.

In some Chinese provinces, taking such pledges is mandatory for the approval of a student’s plans to study in Taiwan.

According to news reports released last week, Shih Hsin University’s School of Lifelong Learning signed a pledge to exclude politically sensitive subjects as part of its curriculum. Activities associated with “One China, One Taiwan,” “Two Chinas” or “Taiwan Independence” has also been removed.

The signing of the pledges in December allowed the university to admit 11 Chinese students for the February to June semester. Beneficial as it may seem, the signing of pledges such as what university did raise concerns on the nature of academic freedom.

Over the next two weeks, the MOE will examine the wide range of pledges made by local schools. This is to get a clearer insight into the issue.

Rumors spread of schools that signed such pledges will be punished by the ministry.

Legislator Wang Yu-min of the opposition Kuomintang, a caucus whip, requested that universities would not be randomly labeled by the ministry.

According to Wang, “it is simply a pledge, not a commitment to ‘One China.'” He exhorted the MOE to esteem the school’s professionalism. The ministry must also place schools under needless pressure.

Legislator Lee Chun-yi of the ruling democratic Progressive Party, a caucus whip, contradicted Wang’s request. He said that Taiwan must not discuss unification or the “1992 consensus” if schools will be signing pledges that commit them to exclude politically sensitive subjects linked to “One China, One Taiwan,” “Two Chinas” or “Taiwan Independence.”

As the MOE drafts guidelines for pledges on Chinese students in Taiwan, proper regulation is needed and the ministry should clarify rumors of punishment for schools.