The Taiwan International Student Movement yesterday said it would protest today outside the Ministry of Education in Taipei against a policy that excludes some Chinese students from returning to Taiwan amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
Since June 17, the ministry has allowed foreign students from 19 “low risk” and “medium-low risk” countries and regions to enter Taiwan.
On July 22, it announced that it was relaxing restrictions to include students from all countries and regions who are graduating this semester and on Wednesday it further expanded entry to students enrolled in degree programs.
Photo: Peter Lo, Taipei Times
A letter sent by the ministry on Wednesday to universities did not exclude students from China.
However, speaking to reporters later that day, Deputy Minister of Education Lio Mon-chi (劉孟奇) said that due to “cross-strait related” considerations, only Chinese students who are graduating this semester would be allowed to return.
The students’ group criticized the policy on Facebook, calling the exclusion of Chinese students an example of politics overriding the right to study.
Another students’ group said that only students from China, Hong Kong and Macau have been subjected to the most stringent entry restrictions, while students from many high-risk countries and regions have be allowed to enter Taiwan.
Chinese students should not been blocked due to political factors, the second group said.
Quarantine-related costs for overseas students are too high, both groups said, adding that staying at a disease prevention hotel for 15 days, and paying for meals, could cost several tens of thousands of New Taiwan dollars.
The ministry should subsidize these costs for overseas students, especially those with financial troubles, the groups said.
Mainland Affairs Council Minister Chen Ming-tong (陳明通) yesterday said that since Taiwan on July 20 opened the door to Chinese students who are to graduate this semester, only 29 of approximately 3,000 who qualify have returned.
The council doubts whether Chinese authorities would let them come, Chen said.
The goal was to allow Chinese students and children with one Taiwanese and one Chinese parent to return, he said, adding that policy adjustments would be made based on developments amid the pandemic.
The council on Wednesday night said that there have been several cases recently of Chinese authorities preventing Chinese students from traveling to Taiwan.
As this has happened to Chinese students who urgently need to return to Taiwan to complete their studies, it is difficult to believe that Chinese authorities would allow others who are not to graduate soon to return, the council said.
National Taiwan University yesterday said in a statement that it “deeply regrets” the ministry’s decision not to include Chinese students in its latest policy.
Additional reporting by Chung Li-hua and Sherry Hsiao
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