Taiwanese students concerned at America’s waning influence

People ARE rowing, running and walking around Harvard University in the spring. (Shutterstock)

TAIPEI (The China Post) — As the end of this disastrous year approaches, several powerful nations are entering another round of political disputes. The U.S. has made several questionable moves over the course of the pandemic which led to a backlash from various communities around the world.

Growing Animosity Towards U.S Leadership

According to a poll by Gallup, only 40 percent of respondents in Taiwan approve of U.S leadership, only slightly higher than 31 percent in Hong Kong. The two regions are securing their ties with the U.S in an attempt to distance themselves from China’s influences, yet a great number of its citizens disapprove of U.S leadership.

Neighboring countries such as India (34%), Indonesia (21%) and Japan (34%) have even lower rates of approval which demonstrate the mixed opinions on U.S leadership. Although the approval rates are generally low, there is one community in particular that has shown open animosity towards U.S leadership — international students.

Based on a report by the Open Doors Report on International Educational Exchange, the total number of international students in the United States was at an all-time high last year — 1,095,299 students. While Chinese and Indian students represented half the international student population, around 23,369 Taiwanese citizens were studying at U.S universities in 2019.

The John Harvard statue at Harvard University, a popular tourist attraction at the campus in Cambridge, Mass, sits adorned with a medical mask as students prepared to leave campus, Saturday, March 14, 2020. (AP Photo/Collin Binkley)

A new policy, earlier this year, from the Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE), would have forced international students to either transfer or depart the country if their classes were all conducted online.

Hundreds of thousands of students took to social media to express their fears and worries about this policy. Many of them who are in severe debt for a “gold standard” of education, fretted over the disruption and the haste departures that their families would have to accommodate.

According to Smit Kiri, an Indian-born graduate student at Northeastern University, We have to risk our lives and go to the university even if we are … at a higher risk of contracting the virus … or dying from it.”

Students like Kiri are constantly perturbed by the prospect of being deported.

According to Francesca Maglione, an international student at Duke University, “it places an immense amount of pressure on universities to hold in-person classes, in order to maintain their international community, while disregarding public health concerns. Does this mean international students have to gamble between health and education?”

Praising the Birth of Taiwan Model 

On the other hand, students enrolled in Taiwan’s educational institutes will head into their fall semester untroubled, returning students from overseas struggle with a disrupted education. Over 23,000 Taiwanese students are displaced due to President Trump’s restrictive policy and many more that were set to attend university in the fall.

This entirely obstructs the stable educational journey of thousands of Taiwanese students and also stains the paradisiac view of the U.S. that they have. The U.S. is starting to scorch its own reputation for excellent education institutes and due to poor leadership, it is losing talented individuals who dream of attending school there.

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In this March 7, 2017 file photo, rowers paddle down the Charles River past the campus of Harvard University in Cambridge, Mass. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa, File)

The Trump Administration is notorious for its whimsical policies that usually have disastrous side effects. This particular banning of international students has a detrimental effect on their image and in the long term, their economy.

Taiwan has long cultivated and truly cherished their bond with the U.S., at the same time, thousands of Taiwanese students no longer have the same flawless image of the country. With protests attacking flawed institutions and policies that target and isolate communities, there is no doubt that Taiwanese students will find an alternative, either abroad or in their home country.

A tweet by U.S. President Trump states, “SCHOOLS MUST OPEN IN THE FALL!!!” Despite the ever-growing number of Covid-19 cases in the US, the President insists that these establishments that function on large gatherings should in fact open.

The U.S. government did not respond to the pandemic in a way that Taiwan did. While it is notably safer for schools to operate in Taiwan, the U.S. must focus on the fundamental healthcare issues that their country is suffering from and ensure that students will have an entirely secure environment to learn in.

Taiwanese students may begin to look at the fine array of universities that their island offers and, in fact, could focus on advancing their careers abroad later.