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Cablegate: Education Minister Cheng On Prc Students, Market

VZCZCXRO4325
PP RUEHCN RUEHGH RUEHVC
DE RUEHIN #1367 2610139
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 170139Z SEP 08
FM AIT TAIPEI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 9956
INFO RUEHOO/CHINA POSTS COLLECTIVE

UNCLAS TAIPEI 001367

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

STATE PASS AIT/W AND EAP/RSC/TC
STATE PASS USTR/DAVID KATZ AND JARED RAGLAND
USDOC FOR 4430/ITA/MAC

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: ECON ETRD KIPR TW
SUBJECT: EDUCATION MINISTER CHENG ON PRC STUDENTS, MARKET
ACCESS, AND THE FULBRIGHT PROGRAM

REF: A. TAIPEI 8
B. 2007 TAIPEI 2595

1. (SBU) Summary: Taiwan authorities are considering allowing
up to 1,000 PRC students per year to study in Taiwan, and may
begin recognizing degrees from first-tier PRC universities.
The Ministry of Education is "favorable" to clarifications of
the Fulbright program,s legal status sought by the U.S., and
Education Minister Cheng Jei-cheng told the Director during a
September 15 meeting that he wants to actively cooperate with
AIT to both liberalize Taiwan,s regulations on market access
for foreign schools, and monitor progress combating campus
intellectual property rights (IPR) violations.
Unfortunately, he seemed unfamiliar with the Ministry,s
Campus Intellectual Property Action Plan, but he highlighted
the importance of strengthening progress. End summary.

2. (SBU) During a September 15 meeting with the Director and
AIT officers, Education Minister Cheng Jei-cheng said
although recognizing PRC degrees and opening to full-time PRC
students are sensitive and difficult issues, his Ministry has
been studying these issues over the past three months to come
up with a workable plan. Cheng said the current thinking is
to allow up to 1,000 PRC students per year to come to Taiwan,
and to review the situation after one or two years to see if
it would be possible to increase the number. As for PRC
degrees, Cheng said that, due to the large number of Chinese
universities, Taiwan would likely begin by recognizing
degrees from universities that the PRC regime has listed as
China,s top 100 schools before considering recognizing
degrees from lesser-known schools.

3. (SBU) Cheng agreed with the Director about the importance
of protecting IPR on and around Taiwan,s university
campuses, but seemed unfamiliar with the MOE,s Campus IP
Action Plan (ref A). Cheng noted that Taiwan and the U.S.
should continue to meet regularly to review Taiwan,s
progress under the Plan, and that the two sides should set
further goals for campus IPR protection.

4. (SBU) After a brief overview of current Taiwan laws
concerning MOE certification for branch campuses, Minister
Cheng commented Taiwan wants to open its education market to
the best universities in the world--including those from the
United States and China--and is therefore interested in our
proposals on how Taiwan should revise its laws to welcome
more international schools. Cheng added Taiwan would study
our proposals and then have MOE staff meet with us at
regular, six-month intervals to review Taiwan,s progress
toward liberalization. Cheng,s attitude is more liberal than
the preceding Minister of Education Tu Sheng-cheng, who did
not think Taiwan needed to loosen requirements for foreign
schools to set up branches in Taiwan, since in his view
Taiwan already had too many colleges (ref B).

5. (U) In response to the PAO,s request that the MOE support
clarifying the legal status of the Foundation for Scholarly
Exhange (FSE), which runs the Fulbright Program in Taiwan,
via "Letters of Exchange" between TECRO and AIT, Section
Chief Pauline Chen from the MOE Office of International
Culture and Education said that the Ministry would follow
MOFA,s September 12 recommendation to the MOE that the legal
clarifications sought by the United States are "favorable".
Chen added, however, that the MOE will still need to consult
with the Ministry of Finance on the taxable status of
Fulbright grants, as well as with the Department of Health
regarding possible National Health Insurance coverage for
Fulbright scholars. Minister Cheng said that he is
unfamiliar with the details of the U.S. requests, but that he
would "do his best" to see that the MOE and other Taiwan
agencies implement our recommendations.

Comment
------------

6. (SBU) Cheng, a lifelong academic in his first government
position, gave the impression of not yet being fully on top
of his ministerial portfolio. He frequently deferred to more
junior staff to address the issues under discussion, and
spent much of the meeting skimming background materials on
the topics. At the same time, he seemed generally agreeable
to the points raised by the Director, and eager to work with
us in the future. End comment.
YOUNG

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