Taipei, March 6 (CNA) The Ministry of Education (MOE) will draft guidelines for universities to use as a reference when engaging in student exchanges with their Chinese counterparts to ensure adherence to the principles of academic freedom, equality and reciprocity, Minister Pan Wen-chung (潘文忠) said on Monday.
Pan was detailing how the ministry plans to resolve a recent controversy in which it has been revealed that several schools in Taiwan have signed pledges not to teach subjects that criticize or reject the "one China" policy, at the request of Chinese students seeking to study in Taiwan.
In some Chinese provinces, students are required to obtain such pledges before their plans to study in Taiwan can be approved.
However, such pledges have sparked debate on the nature of academic freedom after news reports revealed last week that Shih Hsin University's School of Lifelong Learning signed a pledge in December not to include politically sensitive subjects or activities related to "one China, one Taiwan," "two Chinas" or "Taiwan independence" as part of its curriculum.
The university reportedly admitted 11 students from China for the February to June semester.
Pan said the MOE will hold talks with the relevant authorities and try to work out a series of principles, under which cross-strait educational exchanges can continue without concerns over sovereignty or academic freedom.
He also noted that local schools have made a wide range of pledges, and the MOE will review those over the next two weeks to gain a better understanding of the issue.
While it has been rumored schools that signed such pledges will be punished by the MOE, Legislator Wang Yu-min (王育敏) of the opposition Kuomintang, a caucus whip, asked the ministry not to "randomly label universities for the practice."
"It is simply a pledge, not a commitment to 'one China'," Wang said, urging the MOE to respect the schools' professionalism and refrain from placing them under unnecessary pressure.
In contrast, Legislator Lee Chun-yi (李俊俋) of the ruling Democratic Progressive Party, a caucus whip, argued that as such pledges commit not to discuss politically sensitive subjects related to "one China, one Taiwan," or "two Chinas," they should also commit not to talk about unification or the "1992 consensus."
What if China wants the schools to sign a pledge to recognize that the Republic of China is not a country with independent sovereignty? Lee asked, insisting such pledges must be properly regulated.
(By Hsu Chih-wei, Wen Kuei-hsiang and Elizabeth Hsu)