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I agree with you about recognizing Chinese degrees here, for, among other things, it is Taiwanese students in China who can be worked on and turned into spies. But do the Iranian and Stasi examples apply to a situation in which an arrogant and militant larger country is sending students to a smaller country in which most people distinctly don't want to be joined with the larger country? Chinese labor under the illusion that Taiwanese culture is the same as China's -- unlike the case of Iranians vis-a-vis American culture. And to make the East German example analogous, you would have to focus on the success rate of British students in East Germany who attempted to recruit spies for Her Majesty's Service.

I'm astonished at the high degree of consensus I find among Taiwanese about Chinese visitors here. Many see themselves twenty years ago; they see Chinese as comically boorish; and nearly all see them as something they don't want to be. Yet most, not all, want them to come here. So yes, I'd say the "openness" argument is a very good one. It reflects a confidence in self-resilience, and at the end of the day, is this not the most vital thing? What "national identity" worth a damn is not founded foremost on this? If "Taiwanese identity" is still a contentious and unstable thing, isn't deepening this confidence the biggest key to stabilizing it? Identity is formed as much by awarness of what we are not as it is by awareness of what we are. I see nothing that would consolidate Taiwanese identity more and faster than geater exposure to Chinese here on these shores.

And I see nothing that would start to undermine Han chauvinist claims to Taiwan faster than the prolonged exposure of Chinese students to Taiwanese and their culture. I mean Party scions or not, they're still kids and will want to have some fun during their four or whatever years here, no?

All of this said, I did agree nearly in total with your argument two years ago -- and I think it was a good one then. But I think a large part of the argument is mistaken now. Taiwanese seem more sure of themselves now. A priceless comment from a student who went to Alishan this weekend -- and didn't stay long because of the sea of Chinese there: "They were climbing all over the famous old tree, damaging it while they took pictures. I guess they thought because they got in line to climb all over it they had good manners."

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