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VOA Asia Weekly: Taiwan Attracting Southeast Asian Tech Students

VOA Asia Weekly: Taiwan Attracting Southeast Asian Tech Students
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Top US diplomat visits China. Prabowo Subianto confirmed as winner of Indonesia's presidential election. Opposition party in India accuses PM Modi of hate speech. Shanghai mermaid competition.

Taiwan draws tech students from other Southeast Asian countries as the island’s birth rate declines.

Welcome to VOA Asia Weekly.

I'm Chris Casquejo in Washington.

That story is just ahead, but first, making headlines:

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken arrived in Beijing Thursday after meetings with local officials in the financial hub of Shanghai. Blinken called on Beijing to provide a level playing field for American workers and firms operating in China. His visit comes shortly after US President Joe Biden signed into law a $95 billion aid package for Ukraine, Israel and Taiwan.

“I would like to once again express my sincere gratitude to the US for fulfilling its commitment to Taiwan’s security.”

The US aid package includes $8 billion that Taiwan’s president-elect says will help fortify deterrence against authoritarianism. Beijing has urged the U.S. to curb its support for Taiwan following the Senate's approval on Tuesday.

Prabowo Subianto vowed to fight for all Indonesians and called for unity among political elites as he was confirmed Wednesday in a ceremony as the winner of Indonesia’s presidential election. Prabowo takes office in October.

"Do you think your hard-earned money should be given to infiltrators?"

India’s main opposition party accused Prime Minister Narendra Modi of using hate speech after he referred to Muslims as “infiltrators” at a campaign rally. His remark referred to how Muslims are displacing Hindus by having large families. Modi’s BJP party has been criticized for its view on the Muslim community. A party spokesperson defended the PM’s remarks, and told reporters that Modi only “echoed the sentiment of every citizen of the country who believes in equality.”

A dozen earthquakes hit the self-governing island of Taiwan from Monday night into Tuesday morning. The strongest tremors were measured at 6.1 magnitude. The earthquake caused buildings to sway and some to tilt. The government said these were aftershocks from a deadly quake that struck the island more than 2 weeks ago.

Taiwan is looking to Southeast Asia as a pipeline to fill its shortage of high-tech talent. The number of foreign students to the island has been growing, especially from Vietnam and Indonesia. VOA’s Peh Hong Lim reports from Hsinchu, Taiwan.

“Please say: 'There is still a lot of food, you have to eat more, there is still a lot, you have to eat more.'”

These students from Southeast Asia are not only learning Chinese in Taiwan, they are also getting technical skills training in their field of study. About an hour south of Taiwan’s capital, Trương Minh Quí from Vietnam is earning a master’s degree at Minh Hsin University of Science and Technology.

"When I came to Taiwan, I had heard that Taiwan is advanced in chemical and materials fields. I really like these fields.”

Vietnamese student enrollment in Taiwan is growing. They are the largest group of foreign students in Taiwan and account for nearly a quarter of all international students at 27,000. There has also been an increase in the number for students from Indonesia.

One of them is future civil engineer, Happy Mareta who says it was earthquakes that brought her to Taiwan.

“I’m really interested to study here because Taiwan is known for its advanced construction methods.”

Students like Happy and Trương are the answer to Taiwan’s talent shortage in tech. A problem that is made worse by the island's dropping birthrate. Taipei last year launched a plan to nearly triple the number of foreign students by 2030, retaining two-thirds for after graduation jobs. The island has been looking to Southeast Asia as a pipeline for new talent. Foreign students are also drawn to the island. For Mareta, the attraction is Taipei 101, the tallest building on the island.

“It’s the famous tourism spot. I could learn about how the construction methods used in Taiwan [Taipei] 101, how the building is built.”

Especially how the building sways but stays strong during an earthquake.

Many students are pairing their studies with internships in Taiwan with the hope that they’ll land a high-tech job here in the future.

Peh Hong Lim, VOA News, Hsinchu, Taiwan

Visit for the most up-to-date stories.

I’m Chris Casquejo.

Finally, over the weekend, nearly 100 athletes competed in the 2024 China Mermaid Open & International Mermaid Competition in Shanghai's Haichang Ocean Park. The competition, held at this park for the first time, featured top athletes from countries like China, South Korea, and Kazakhstan.

Thanks for watching VOA Asia Weekly.