Saturday, January 11, 2014

Is it a preemptive measure or discrimination?

It’s illogical, it’s unreasonable, but it’s something that must be done. I am referring to our government regulations about issuing student visas to Vietnamese who wish to come to Taiwan to learn Chinese. To acquire visa for entry, Vietnamese students are required to produce documents certifying their proficiency of Chinese at beginning level. Why do they need to prove they know some Chinese before they come here to learn Chinese? The rationale behind this regulation is preemption or prevention. Any Vietnamese students who want to come to Taiwan are deemed as potential migrant workers who will work illegally; therefore, setting up a linguistic barrier is a proof that helps screen real students. However, foreign students of Western countries do not have to prove their basic mastery of Chinese in order to obtain a student visa.

Such regulation, unfortunately, has created an opportunity for corrupt Taiwanese officials. A former Taiwanese consular officer was charged of taking bribes from Vietnamese agents applying for visas on behalf of their Vietnamese student clients. At the price of US$1,000 each, he issued visas to applicants based on false Chinese learning certificates. What’s more ridiculous was these certificates were all printed in simplified Chinese instead of the traditional Chinese required by Taiwan.

As for each Vietnamese student applying for a visa to enter Taiwan, US$4,000 to 6,000 was the fee paid to the agent. Why would a student need to pay so high a fee to learn Chinese for a four-month period with a tuition fee only up to about US$1,000 to 1,300? Are these students so enthusiastic about learning Chinese or are they up for something else?  

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs did not say why students from Western countries were not required to show papers proving their Chinese proficiency before coming here to learn Chinese. I do not see there is any differences between Vietnamese students caught working illegally as manual laborers or Western students as English teachers at kindergartens or bushibans.  

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