(p. A4) TAIPEI, Taiwan — Harvard University will move a popular Chinese-language program to Taipei from Beijing amid a broad chill in academic and cultural exchanges between the United States and China.
The program’s director, Jennifer L. Liu, told The Harvard Crimson that the move had been driven by a perceived lack of friendliness on the part of the Chinese host institution, the Beijing Language and Culture University.
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. . . Professor Liu said that the program had been experiencing difficulties securing access to the classrooms and dormitories needed from Beijing Language and Culture University, according to an account she provided to The Harvard Crimson, a student newspaper. She also said that in 2019, the Chinese university told the program that it could no longer hold an annual gathering to celebrate the Fourth of July, during which students and faculty would typically eat pizza and sing the American national anthem.
Though China has instituted stringent pandemic restrictions, with provinces undergoing snap lockdowns as coronavirus cases have flared up, Professor Liu said she believed that the unwelcoming environment was related to a shift in the Chinese government’s attitudes toward American institutions.
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The Harvard program’s relocation to Taiwan also comes as the island has supplanted Hong Kong as a bastion of free speech in the Chinese-speaking world, an idea that Taiwanese officials have been keen to emphasize.
Joanne Ou, a spokeswoman for Taiwan’s Foreign Ministry, said the agency “believes that the democratic and liberal system and pluralistic society will enable young American students to have a deeper understanding of Taiwan and the Chinese-speaking world.”
She added, “Only in a free environment where speech is not censored can the best results of learning be achieved.”
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(Note: the online version of the story was updated Nov. [sic] 10, 2021, and has the same title “Amid U.S.-China Chill, Harvard Moves a Top Language Program to Taiwan.” The last three sentences quoted above, appear in the online version, but not in the shorter print version. Where there is a slight difference in wording between the two versions, the passages quoted above follow the online version.)