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U.S.-Taiwan Education Initiative anniversary celebrated

2022-12-05
Focus Taiwan
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Foreign Minister Joseph Wu (吳釗燮, second left) and then Director of the American Institute in Taiwan William Brent Christensen (second right) launch the Taiwan-U.S. Education Initiative on Dec. 3, 2020 in Taipei.
Foreign Minister Joseph Wu (吳釗燮, second left) and then Director of the American Institute in Taiwan William Brent Christensen (second right) launch the Taiwan-U.S. Education Initiative on Dec. 3, 2020 in Taipei.

Washington, Dec. 3 (CNA) The United States and Taiwan both celebrated on social media Friday the second anniversary of a language education initiative that aims to encourage more Americans to learn Chinese from Taiwanese study centers, in an attempt to replace China's language and cultural centers which have closed in the U.S.

"Over the past two years, we have significantly increased Mandarin and English language learning and exchange opportunities. Here's to the future!" said the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs under the U.S. Department of State in a Twitter post.

Attached to the post was a graphic that indicated the number of U.S. students in the bureau's exchange programs on Taiwan has increased from around 90 to around 130 over the past two years since the initiative was launched on Dec. 3, 2020.

The number of students attending the U.S. government-sponsored Mandarin language programs is expected to rise to nearly 190 by the end of 2023, the graphic showed.

In its retweet, the Taipei Economic and Cultural Representative Office (TECRO) in the U.S. said that the "Taiwan-U.S. Education Initiative is growing from strength to strength and we hope to tell more stories about Taiwan in the years to come!"

The office, Taiwan's de facto embassy in the U.S., then released a short video to introduce the "Learn & Study in Taiwan" website, which it said could help people get access to Mandarin learning opportunities in Taiwan and the U.S.

Launched in 2020, the U.S.-Taiwan Education Initiative aims to expand collaboration in the area of language education and to safeguard academic freedom.

"Specifically, the initiative will highlight and enhance Taiwan's role in providing Chinese language instruction to Americans and to people around the world," stated Brent Christensen, then director of the American Institute in Taiwan.

The initiative was partly started against the backdrop of the U.S.' closing of Beijing-supported Confucius Institutes, Chinese language and cultural learning centers which some governments see as having a role in China's censorship and malign influence campaigns abroad.

According to the non-profit National Association of Scholars (NAS), by June 21 there was "a total of 104 Confucius Institutes that have closed or are in the process of closing" in the U.S.

Meanwhile, there were 18 Confucius Institutes that had not been closed by that date, the NAS added.

In contrast, the number of Taiwan Center for Mandarin Learning in the U.S. are growing, with now 34 such centers, according to the TECRO.

With more and more U.S. students learning Mandarin at Taiwan's language centers, the office hoped that American citizens would get to know Taiwan's democratic society and pluralistic culture, and that this would facilitate more cooperation between the two countries.

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