Taipei, Taiwan and the United States launched an initiative Thursday to expand cooperation in the area of language education and to safeguard academic freedom.
“Specifically, the initiative will highlight and enhance Taiwan’s role in providing Chinese language instruction to Americans and to people around the world,” Brent Christensen, director of the American Institute in Taiwan (AIT), said in Taipei at the official launch of the program.
The U.S.-Taiwan Education Initiative, as it is called, is set against the backdrop of two distinct trends — the closing of Confucius Institutes by many universities around the world and President Tsai Ing-wen’s (蔡英文) goal to make Taiwan fully bilingual by 2030, Christensen said.
Confucius Institutes are Beijing-supported Chinese language and cultural learning centers, which some governments see as having a role in China’s censorship and malign influence campaigns.
“We are already encouraging students of the Chinese language to choose Taiwan as their place of study,” Christensen said at the launch ceremony at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. “We are also examining opportunities to move more U.S. government-sponsored Chinese language programs to Taiwan.”
At the ceremony, Foreign Minister Joseph Wu (吳釗燮) said the initiative marked the start of a comprehensive education cooperation effort between Taiwan and the U.S. that would improve their overall partnership.
Wu also noted that Taiwan and the U.S. on Wednesday held a virtual dialogue on education cooperation, which was joined by U.S. Deputy Secretary of Education Mick Zais and Assistant Secretary of State David Stilwell.
According to an AIT press release, the initiative comes under a memorandum of understanding (MOU) on international education cooperation that was signed by the AIT and the Taipei Economic and Cultural Representative Office in the U.S. on December 2.
Under the MOU, the U.S. and Taiwan will strengthen cooperation and collaboration on international education, particularly in the area of language education.
Thursday’s launch ceremony was also attended by Taiwan’s Deputy Education Minister Lio Mon-chi (劉孟奇) and Overseas Community Affairs Council Vice Minister Roy Leu (呂元榮), while Taiwan’s representative to the U.S. Hsiao Bi-khim (蕭美琴) and senior U.S. State Department officials Carolina Casagrande and Richard Buangan sent pre-recorded congratulatory messages.
Source: Focus Taiwan News Channel