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Taiwan, China Increase Student Exchanges


Ms. Pan, Taiwanese college student in Wuhan University.

Ms. Pan, Taiwanese college student in Wuhan University.

Since Taiwan's President Ma Ying-jeou came into office in 2008, Taiwan and China have forged closer economic ties. But business is not the only way the two sides are drawing closer- the governments of Taiwan and China are beginning to welcome each others students. Natalie Tso has this report from Taipei

Taiwan's education minister is promoting academic exchanges with mainland China. A draft bill is in the legislature that would recognize Chinese degrees and welcome mainland students to study full time at Taiwan's universities.

The bill, however, has not passed because of opposition from political parties wary of closer exchanges with China.

The education minister invited Chinese students to speak at the legislature this week to share their experience in existing exchange programs.

Liao Minmin, from the mainland city of Nanjing, studies at Taiwan's Yuan Ze University. She says there is more freedom and the society is more open here. It helps stimulate students' thinking. Liao also says she thinks studying in Taiwan has a positive influence because it gives a different perspective.

Most Taiwan universities welcome the idea of inviting Chinese students to their campuses. But each time the draft bill has been reviewed, scuffles have broken out in the legislature because the opposition fears mainland students would take away opportunities from Taiwan students.

The education minister said this week though that mainland students would help improve cross-strait ties and could influence the next generation of leaders in China.

Taiwan has been self-governed since 1949, when Nationalist forces fled there after China's communist army won the country's civil war. Beijing considers the island part of its territory and vows to retake control eventually.

Across the strait, China recruits Taiwan's top high school graduates to its leading universities. Beijing has just begun allowing outstanding Taiwan high school graduates to use their test scores to qualify for mainland universities. This fall, 12 Taiwan students will study at Beijing University.

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