According the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the program (link in Chinese) will take the form of a subsidy for domestic universities to encourage academic cooperation with European counties and attract European students to study in Taiwan for exchanges and learning Chinese.

Likening the program to the UK’s Global Britain vision and the EU’s Europe-Asia Connectivity Strategy, Chen Yongshao, deputy director-general of the European Department of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said that while the program started in the Czech Republic, one of its main purposes includes strengthening connections with Europe more generally.

“The Ministry of Foreign Affairs will provide subsidies to domestic universities for implementation”

“The Ministry of Foreign Affairs will provide subsidies to domestic universities for implementation,” she explained.

“Each school can use it in a coordinated manner and decide to subsidise plane tickets, lodging or other expenses, or to support the expenses of the school for handling the project.

“In principle, each school must provide scholarships of at least NT$15,000 per month for recipients.”

She further emphasised that while MOFA and the MOE had already recommended 20 high-quality Chinese language learning centres at universities to get involved, “this plan does not exclude universities without Chinese language centres”.

“The Ministry of Foreign Affairs welcomes the participation of all alternative universities. Even schools without a Chinese language centre can also cooperate with the above 20 schools,” she added.

“For example, after entering the country European students studying in an existing department at one university can also participate in the program by going to another school’s Chinese language centre to study Chinese.”

MOFA noted that for students from the Czech Republic seven domestic universities and 14 Czech universities will cooperate to provide 50 scholarships for Czech students, while 18 Taiwanese universities will work with 42 British universities and offer 100 scholarships for UK students.

Over recent months Taiwan has signed a spate of MOUs surrounding academic cooperation and the promotion of Chinese language learning, including MOUs with the UK in October last year, Hungary in November and the US in December. The government also recently announced funding for the UCLA Asia Pacific Center and Harvard University’s Fairbank Center.

A recent piece in the Taipei Times called the closure of China’s Confucius Institutes a “boon” for Taiwan and quotes Taiwanese academics saying “Taiwan has an opportunity to fill the gap” and that “by teaching foreign students Mandarin, Taiwan is building a network, which would help develop its international status”.

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