The prestigious Harvard University announced, beginning next year, the summer Mandarin Chinese course will be held in the city of Taipei, the capital of Taiwan.
China, the current host country, has shown some hostility and put obstacles to the educational institution’s requirements, as reported by The Crisom newspaper.
Jennifer Liu is the director of the summer study program at Harvard’s Beijing Academy. She said the Mandarin Chinese course currently taught at Beijing Language and Culture University (BLCU) would be moved to National Taiwan University in Taipei. She said it was due to a perceived lack of friendliness from Chinese authorities.
Liu explained that the students were not allowed to stay in one building, forcing them to move to different facilities or rent a hotel that was uncomfortable for them, far from the requirements Harvard offers its students to maximize their performance.
Another reason why the university decided to leave China was the censorship suffered by its students in 2019. For example, they were not permitted to celebrate the anniversary of American independence on the Fourth of July. That date is special for them, and the students usually gather to eat pizza and sing the national anthem.
The episode of censorship by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), whose dictatorship controls what can and cannot be said, comes when relations between the two nations are at an all-time low.
The CCP’s attempt to “unify” Taiwan has escalated in recent times.
From sending nearly 80 warplanes—some with nuclear capability—to fly over Taiwan’s airspace during the weekend of the CCP’s founding anniversary to Chinese leader Xi Jinping’s statements that the island’s unification “has to happen,” the CCP has become increasingly aggressive in the region.
However, far from succeeding in intimidating Taiwan, the CCP aroused the reaction of its allies, among them and most importantly, the United States, which reaffirmed its interest in maintaining the island’s independence.
In this context, as reported by the South China Morning Post, there is hostility in China towards U.S. institutions and this is perhaps where the censorship of the Fourth of July celebrations at the BLCU was born.
Other factors that added difficulty to student exchange was the visa issue. China closed its borders since March last year and stopped issuing visas to international students, while Taiwan does admit international students.
At the same time, with the hostility of the CCP in the region, Taiwan’s opposing attitude has stood out. For example, when the regime kicked out journalists from the Washington Times, Wall Street Journal and New York Times, the Taiwanese government offered them a place on the island where they are currently working.
According to the Harvard Academy of Taipei’s website, with the new Mandarin Chinese course to be taught at the National Taiwan University, students will have full access to the dining halls, library and other facilities, as well as “comfortable rooms with private bathrooms.”
Unlike China, Taiwan enjoys a democratic government and has managed to preserve its traditional culture. There is no Internet censorship in Taiwan, as in China, and all social networks are accessible.