八月中旬英國廣播公司新聞網(BBC News)刊登了一篇關於台灣中文學校即將進軍美國的報導、將台灣的「華語文學習中心」與中國政府資助的「孔子學院」進行了一番比較。近年來由於中國「孔子學院」在課程內容上迴避新疆、西藏和台灣等政治敏感類話題,被指涉有限制學術自由之嫌,有許多駐外「孔子學院」的工作人員是直接受僱於中國政府,課程內容設計亦符合中國共產黨的指導準則。其背後的政治操作嫌疑令原本多設立在歐美國家二、三級學術機構之下的「孔子學院」名譽掃地,在美國已有許多的「孔子學院」面臨關閉的下場。於是台灣掀起了一股熱論,很多人認為這個時機點下,台灣應該趁勢派出華語文教師到當地組建中文學校,來取代原本「孔子學院」的中文教學志業。

首先,站在美國公民的角度,我會更希望看到在美國的中文教學工作是由美國當地的公民或居民來擔任。在美國有很多來自台灣、中國、或其他國家的華語後裔,不乏中文為母語的人才。就「孔子學院」的前例而言,若美國政府擔心中國政府滲透美籍華裔中文老師,大可以在招聘的過程制定一套評量標準、以篩選出具有爭議背景的人選。諷刺的是,台灣當地的小學與幼托機構要聘請外籍教師極為困難,然而台灣卻想輸出本國老師到海外擔任中文教師,這難道未有雙重標準之嫌?

其次,忠言或許逆耳,但無論是哪一黨執政,台灣歷屆政府都不擅長輸出台灣的軟實力。與日本、韓國、泰國等其他亞洲國家相比,台灣推動來台觀光或在國際間推廣台灣文化的努力實在少得可憐。無論是觀光局或文化部,都缺乏強而有力的台灣論述,取而代之的是層層疊疊的官僚主義以及未見顯著成效的「綠友友」大筆資金花費。

在新冠疫情開始之前,雖然來台旅遊的人數似乎有增長,但數據是部分得益於台灣政府為了吸引東南亞國家的遊客所供出的旅遊補貼,然而這些消費力較低的遊客所帶來的收益仍是遠遠不及少了中國遊客之後的損失。

第三,正如筆者之前在《時論廣場》發表的〈蔡政府在許下外交願望之前,小心點!〉所言,台灣中央和地方政府機構常常忘了在台灣也有不少外籍居民可以幫忙增強台灣國際形象,反而更重視拉攏遠方的外國人支持。由最近的阿富汗事件我們可以得知,外籍人士也能成為他們所居住該國政府的有力外交資源。所以筆者認為台灣政府應該多與在台灣居住的外籍人士合作、讓他們替台灣發聲,而不是將資源孤注擲於海外建蓋中文學校校舍。過去60年來,台灣許多華語文中心提拔出了數以萬計的外國人才,這些人本都可以成為為台灣效力的資源,但多被忽略。

第四,姑且不論在台灣把中文稱作華語、華文、或國語,或者即便在英文是以「Mandarin」來稱呼中文,仍有很多美國人都會對於台灣與中國說一樣的語言抱持一樣的疑惑。若台灣希望能建立有別於中國的國際形象,何不考慮推廣台語、客家話等方言?這樣不僅能與中國區別開來,中國在海外傳授方言的可能性較小,也能幫助外國人與世界各地閩南人、客家人交流做生意,何樂不為?

這也帶出了另一個我認為台灣不應該急著推出中文學校的原因。一般而言,外國人學習中文多半是為了在經貿活動、學術研究等領域跟中國來往,台灣通常不在考量之內。雖然也有像筆者這樣從學生時期就學了中文,輾轉來到台灣就業定居的外國人,但算是極少數例外。也就是說,台灣政府投資中文學校的一個風險在於,培育出來的中文人才,並不會對台灣帶來直接幫助。若台灣自己沒有相對應的經濟誘因,外國人即使在台灣的中文學校學了台式中文之後,仍然很有可能會到中國去經商、留學、或工作,我們常常可以在領取了台灣政府提供的獎學金或文化補助金的外國名額上看到類似的現象,他們得到了台灣的資助後,真的扎根台灣、或為台灣在國際間發聲的人有多少?新南向政策中也提供了獎學金讓對象國家的學生到台灣的學術院校來交流學習,但台灣的慷慨出手有得到相當的回報嗎?

中華文化這個概念將台灣與中國以文化之因緊緊相連,若台灣政府現在站出來宣揚中華文化,例如宣揚故宮珍藏品的正統性與價值、或派中文教師出來取代中國來教外國人中文,這會向國際遞送一個含混的訊息:台灣和中國共享同樣的語言與文化。這難道不是與民進黨政府的論述背道而馳?

台灣有許多政治家喜歡談論台灣的軟實力,但台灣的國防安全是建立在軍備基礎與國家安全系統上,也就是所謂的硬實力。在美國多建幾所中文學校,除了能取悅積極推動這項政策的政治人物之外,對於改善台灣的國際地位長遠看來很難有實質幫助。國庫的珍貴資源、即納稅人的血汗錢,難道不應該要花在更有意義的刀口上嗎?

(作者為美國共和黨海外部亞太區前主席)

全文:

Why Taiwan Should Not Try to Replace Confucius Institutes

by Ross Darrell Feingold

Former Asia Chairman Republicans Abroad

In mid-August the BBC published a long report about Taiwan’s newly opened Mandarin language schools in the United States. The report compared the Taiwan operated schools with the now discredited Confucius Institutes operated by the Chinese government in secondary and tertiary academic institutions worldwide. With the negative attention given to Confucius Institutes over concerns that courses offered in the institutes limit academic freedom by avoiding sensitive topics such as Xinjiang Tibet and Taiwan and that the personnel are employees of the Chinese government and / or work at the direction of the Chinese Communist Party or the Chinese government it is no surprise that the political and in some places legal environments have shifted against schools in the United States hosting a Confucius Institute.

First as a US citizen I prefer Mandarin teaching jobs be given to United States citizens or permanent residents. There are a sufficient number of such persons in the United States who are native Mandarin speakers whether their heritage is in Taiwan China or other locations in the Mandarin speaking world. If schools in the United States in need of Mandarin teachers are concerned that teachers might have an inappropriate relationship to the Chinese government this can be ascertained during the hiring process. It is ironic that the Taiwan government makes it difficult for primary schools and kindergartens to hire foreigners to teach English but wants to export its own citizens to serve as Mandarin teachers overseas.

Second let’s be frank and admit that successive Taiwan governments have never been very good at projecting Taiwan’s soft power. Taiwan’s efforts to promote inbound tourism or export Taiwan’s modern culture are rather pathetic when compared to the successes of other countries in Asia such as Japan South Korea and Thailand. Whether it’s the Ministry of Transportation and Communications Tourism Bureau or the Ministry of Culture (and its predecessor agencies) there are consistent problems with a lack of international understanding bureaucracy and money wasted on projects that generate poor results. Recent gains (pre Covid-19) in inbound tourism arrivals were helped in part by subsidies to attract tourists from certain Southeast Asian countries but these low spending tourists did not make up for the loss of China tourists.

Third as this author has previously publicly commented Taiwan’s central and local government agencies have an odd habit of valuing foreigners who live outside Taiwan and make some gesture to show support for Taiwan (such as recent statements or social media posts by politicians in other countries) over the foreign population resident in Taiwan. As recent events in Afghanistan show the presence of a foreign community is an important concern not only of the host country but also those persons home country governments. Perhaps the Taiwan government should spend more resources on activating the resident foreign community to advocate for Taiwan who by their decision to live in Taiwan have demonstrated their commitment to Taiwan rather than spend resources on Mandarin language students overseas. Similarly there are tens of thousands of alumni of Taiwan’s Mandarin language schools around the world who in the past sixty years studied Mandarin in Taiwan. It is this author’s firm belief that they can also be great advocates for Taiwan but the Taiwan government largely ignores these foreigners. Instead the government is trying to create new friends of Taiwan by teaching Mandarin to foreigners in far away places.

Fourth the name of the language should be carefully considered. Regardless of what the language is called in Mandarin or if in English it is referred to as “Mandarin” there will still be confusion as to whether or not Taiwan is part of China. If Taiwan wants Americans or the rest of the world to view Taiwan as separate from China why would Taiwan fund the teaching of the Chinese language? Perhaps Taiwan should instead fund the teaching overseas of dialects such as Taiwanese Hokkien and Hakka which would distinguish Taiwan from China the Chinese government will not compete in this area and it will help learners do business with the worldwide Hokkien and Hakka diaspora.

Which leads to the most important reasons why the concept of Taiwan funding Mandarin language schools worldwide is odd. Generally people study Mandarin because they wish to work in or with China. Regardless of whether the field is business or academics or other China and not Taiwan is the motivating factor for people to learn Mandarin. Although some persons such as myself who studied Mandarin at a young age changed paths and made their life in Taiwan rather than China this is the exception and not the rule why people learn Mandarin. Thus there is a risk that students of Taiwan-funded Mandarin schools eventually go to China to work anyway and have little connection to Taiwan. A similar phenomenon is seen with foreign students who receive scholarships to study in Taiwan whether language or in other fields. One aspect of the New Southbound Policy is to offer scholarships to students from these countries to study in Taiwan’s universities but there is no evidence they return Taiwan’s generosity by doing anything for Taiwan now or in the future and in fact the likelihood is higher that they will do business with China in the future than with Taiwan.

Generally as with any thing that attaches Taiwan to Chinese culture these language schools appear to create a confusing message that “but for” the current political separation of the two sides of the Taiwan Strait Taiwan and China are actually one entity. To further prove that point the Taiwan government even wants to subsidize the teaching of the common language during a period when China’s government has a negative image. If Taiwan’s current government wants to claim an ownership share to aspects of Chinese history (such as the government’s selective participation in events to memorialize events in the Republic of China’s history) Chinese artifacts such as what is held at the National Palace Museum or the Mandarin language it weakens the argument for Taiwan being separate from China.

Taiwan politicians and other stakeholders love to talk about projecting Taiwan’s soft power. But Taiwan’s national security is based on hard power and a sufficient investment people and equipment for Taiwan’s military and other national security agencies. Taiwan funded Mandarin language schools around the world are unlikely to improve Taiwan’s national security will divert the attention of relevant government agencies from other more important domestic matters to please the politicians who think this is a good idea and might ultimately waste Taiwan taxpayer’s money.

#Taiwan #台灣 #Mandarin #government #China