Miaoli school visit to China alleged to be Beijing ploy
Taipei, Oct. 18 (CNA) A Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) legislator on Thursday raised questions about a trip taken by over 100-plus school children, teachers and parents from Miaoli County to China, alleging that the Chinese government provided food, transportation and accommodation to the visitors as part of its united front work.
DPP lawmaker Huang Kuo-shu (黃國書) was referring to an incident in which 108 students, teachers and parents from two schools in Miaoli County went on a trip to China last week, as part of an education exchange program.
Taiwan's Mainland Affairs Council (MAC), which oversees cross-strait affairs, and the Ministry of Education should establish a reporting system for similar activities, Huang said.
The trip came to light when the Taiwanese visitors had to extend their stay after bad weather caused the suspension of ferry services.
Invited by a China-based Taiwanese businessman, a total of 92 students, nine teachers and seven parents from Tung Shiau Elementary School and Tongxiao Junior High School, undertook a 4-day cultural and education exchange trip from Oct. 10-14 to Pingtan County in China's Fujian Province.
The group originally planned to return to Taiwan Oct. 14, but strong northeasterly winds caused the Hai Xia Hao ferry service, which operates between Taiwan and China, to be suspended. As a result, the group has had to remain in Pingtan as of Thursday morning.
Tongxiao Junior High School Principal Luo Shih-kan (羅士侃) told CNA over the telephone that the trip was sponsored by a China-based Taiwanese businessman. The group visited a local high school in Pingtan.
The group had planned to return directly to Taiwan on the Hai Xia Hao ferry, but arrangements have now been made for them to first travel to Taiwan's outlying island of Kinmen before taking a flight back to Taiwan, Luo said.
Taiwanese businesspeople in Pingtan have provided food and accommodation for the group during its extended stay in the county, according to Luo.
However, DPP legislator Huang suggested that it was not arranged by a Taiwanese businessman and alleged that the Chinese government provided food, transportation and accommodation to the 100-plus visiting Taiwanese.
He further said the trip was in fact part of China's united front work, noting that it was arranged by a Chinese government organization -- Fujian Province Service Center for Cross-Strait Society Organizations.
Taiwanese students who joined the group were required to pay only NT$1,000 (US$33.2), while all expenses in China including ferry tickets, travel insurance, food, accommodation and transport were paid by the Chinese side despite claims it was sponsored by a China-based Taiwanese businessman, according to Huang.
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